Mason’s upcoming Musical “25th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee”

Sierra Sulc, Editor-in-Chief

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As shown in the poster the “25th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee”, the production features students all competing in a spelling bee at school. What will for sure be very different from last year’s “Phantom of the Opera”, the “25th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee” is comedic and entertaining. (Photo courtesy of Wikipedia)

Last year, students wowed audiences with their rendition of “Phantom of the Opera”. This Fall, George Mason High School will be performing “25th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee”, which is a musical conceived by Rebecca Feldman (with music and lyrics by William Finn, and book by Rachel Sheinken) that was performed on Broadway in 2005. Now George Mason High School will be putting their own twist on this award-winning production which will be directed by George Mason’s theater teacher, Shawn Northrip.

Auditions for this production took place on Monday September 21. For these auditions, all of the students trying out were asked to prepare a monologue and to sing an excerpt of a song.

An invitation for some students to return for a second audition, also known as callbacks were posted on Tuesday, September 22 and the students who got a call back returned that afternoon for their second audition to help the director make his final casting decisions. The official cast list was posted on Wednesday, September 23 . Students accepted had their first rehearsal on Thursday, September 24.

The “25th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee” is about six quirky students who compete against each other in a spelling bee. Each student has their own backstory and distinct traits and behaviors.

The six students include; Olive Ostrovsky (played by Junior, Lydia Gompper), William Morris Barfée, (played by Junior, Daniel Rossi ), Logainne “Schwarzy” Schwartzand/Grubenierre (played by Junior, Sarah Edwards), Marcy Park (played by Junior, Justine Stolworthy) , Leaf Coneybear (played by Freshman, Miles Jackson), Charlito “Chip” Tolentino (played by Junior, Alec Reusch).

This production will include comedy, fun songs, and budding romance. In addition, the production will add an element of audience participation– where four audience members will be asked up on stage to interactively compete against the actors in the spelling bee.

In other versions of this production there is somewhat questionable material, including a song, “My Unfortunate Erection,” sung by “Chip” Tolentino. The subject of this song is Chip’s affection toward Marigold Coneybear (played by Junior, Izabel Julazadeh). However, Mr. Northrip confirmed that this song will be replaced with an alternative, “My Unfortunate Distraction,” in George Mason’s version of the musical. This alternative portrays the same idea, in a less suggestive way. Since this is a school production, there have been changes made to the musical since some versions are peppered with sexual references.

There is much work to be done before the musical premieres on November 19. Students have already started working hard to prepare.

“We had our first real rehearsal  and it was really cool because everyone just works really well together,” says Miles Jackson, playing Leaf Coneybear.