'Putnam County' production promises surprises (and spelling)

acarlson@ledger-enquirer.comJune 12, 2014 

The thing you need to know about “The 25th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee” is that you can’t know everything about it.

The Tony Award-winning musical includes a set amount of randomization in each show: members of the audience are randomly selected as additional “students” in the eponymous competitions.

“That is one of the most fun things to me about the show, the ad-lib,” said Amelia Maxfield, who plays civic-minded child Logainne Schwartzandgrubenierre.

What is definitely going to happen in “Putnam” is this: a series of troubled, eccentric and talented children will attempt to win a spelling bee. There will be singing. The vice principal’s last name is Paunch.

“Even though we are playing these characters, we’re playing people at the same time. We’re playing some type of person,” said Matthew Carey, who plays “alpha male” Chip Tolentino. “We’ve got to be as honest as we can.”

Honest, yes — and funny.

“It’s just such a crowd-pleaser,” said director Larry Dooley, head of CSU’s theatre department, “There are lines in here that after three weeks of intensive rehearsal, I still bust out laughing.”

Especially liberating is one of the show’s seminal songs, “Pandemonium.”

“We get to tap into this child that we can’t be anymore,” said Maria Lopez, who plays Olive Ostrovsky, whose best friend is the dictionary. “In rehearsals and stuff, we get to just go crazy and play around on everything and throw things — throw people. It’s just so fun.”

IF YOU GO

June 12-14, 20-21 and 26-27 at 7:30 p.m.; June 22 at 2 p.m.

Riverside Theatre Complex, 6 W. 10th Street

Tickets are $20 (adults), $15 (seniors and active-duty military) and $12 (kids 12 and under)

706-507-8444

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