This May, The New England School of Communications at Husson University will present the award-winning musical, The 25th Annual Putman County Spelling Bee in the Gracie Black Box Theatre. This is the second musical that has been presented in the school’s experimental theatre. Last year, Studs Terkel’s Working – The Musical launched the space as an intimate alternative performance facility on the Husson campus.
Winner of the Tony and the Drama Desk Awards for Best Book, The 25th Annual Putman County Spelling Bee has charmed audiences across the country. The story focuses on an eclectic group of six high school students who vie for the spelling championship of a lifetime. While candidly disclosing hilarious and touching stories from their home life, they spell their way through a series of [potentially made-up] words, hoping to never hear the soul crushing, pout inducing, life un-affirming “ding” of the bell that signals a spelling mistake. Six spellers enter; one speller leaves! At least the losers get a juice box! The show is a riotous ride, complete with audience participation. With upbeat, clever music and lyrics by William Finn, and satirical book by Rachel Sheinkin, Spelling Bee gives us a comic and insightful look into youthful aspirations, the overwhelming joy of victory and the bitter-sweet tang of defeat. The musical pulls no punches, and is recommended for mature audiences only.
The NESCom production is staged by Christie Robinson, who is well-known to the Bangor Theatre community, assisted by another local favorite, John Haskell, the music director of countless area musicals and revues. The cast of Spelling Bee misfits will be performed by NESCom’s Musical Theatre Performance class.
Robinson sums up the essence of the play in her director’s notes: “We all have our quirks that make us unique and different. We’ve been teased, had times of being cool or uncool, struggled to be seen for who we truly are (not who others want us to be), had embarrassing acne and let our freak flags fly. You don’t need to look very hard to recognize a little bit of each of us in the characters of ‘the Bee’. Whether this brings back feelings of the good, the bad and the ugly of adolescence, I hope it brings back a feeling of nostalgia. That no matter how high your freak flag flies, you mattered and made a positive difference in someone’s life – win or lose.”
The performances are scheduled for Friday and Saturday, May 2 – 3 at 7:30 PM and on Sunday, May 4th at 2:00 PM. The Gracie Black Box Theatre is located on the second floor of the Gracie Theatre on the campus of Husson University. General Admission tickets are available at the door before each performance. Ticket prices are $5.00 Regular Admission and $3.00 Student admission. Seating is limited to 50 seats for each performance, so get there early, and be prepared to laugh… and maybe to spell!