The Monmouth Community Players (MCP) are excited to announce the cast of their upcoming spring musical, “The 25th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee.” Winner of the Tony and the Drama Desk Awards for Best Book, featuring a fast-paced, wildly funny and touching book by Rachel Sheinkin and a truly fresh and vibrant score by William Finn, this spelling bee is sure to be one unforgettable experience. The production team for “Spelling Bee” includes director Josie French, musical director Steve Barter, assistant director Tim MacLeod and producer Cindy Dunham.
The show follows six middle schoolers competing in their county spelling bee for a spot in a national bee. Moderated by the winner of the third annual bee, Rona Lisa Peretti (Karen Lipovsky of Monmouth), and vice principal Douglas Panch (David Marshall of Monmouth), we learn about the contestants’ backstories and idiosyncratic quirks through song and dance. These kids are frighteningly competitive, treating the bee as if it were the Olympic Games. Though, as with most competitions, there can be only one winner, and those who fail to achieve their goal are sent away with a hug and a juice box from the bee’s comfort counselor, Mitch Mahoney (Chad Jacobson of Topsham).
The first contestant is Boy Scout Chip Tolentino (Ethan Rombalski of Turner) who finds himself assaulted by puberty at an inopportune moment. Next is Logainne SchwartzandGrubenierre (Maya Veilleux and Alexa Gallant, both of Augusta), a politically active speller with a lisp that makes her somewhat unintelligible at times. The tender-hearted Leaf Coneybear (Tim MacLeod of Auburn) was invited to the bee because the winner and first runner-up of his own district’s bee went to the winner’s Bat Mitzvah. William Barfée (Danny Gay of Auburn) is the uptight runner-up of last year’s bee with only one working nostril and a sea anemone circus in his basement. Marcy Park (Megan Record of Auburn) is a high-achieving student with a multitude of talents. Finally, there is Olive Ostrovsky (Sarah Flagg of Westbrook), a kind and bright young girl who loves her dictionary.
On the surface, “Putnam” is an absurd and whimsical glimpse into the world of children’s competitive spelling, but strewn throughout are small moments of bitter realism. These moments are brought to life through a strong ensemble of characters portrayed by: Jane Mitchell of Greene; Andy Tolman of Readfield; Sarah Wheatley of Old Town; Jeff Fairfield of Hallowell; Amy Griswold, Ginger Smith and Cindy Dunham of Winthrop; Henry Quintal of Augusta; Ann-Marie Caron and Nancy Kenneally of Lewiston; and Ray Fletcher and John Lipovsky of Monmouth.
“Putnam” may be about a group of eccentric children, but it also touches on real issues about childhood that is familiar to everyone. So take a night off and watch others navigate the perils of middle school. It’s T-E-R-R-I-F-I-C. The show will be performed at the historic Cumston Hall in downtown Monmouth. The show runs two weekends, April 20-22 and 27-29 at 7:30 pm Friday and Saturday and at 2pm on Sunday. Tickets are $14 for General Admission and $12 for Students and Seniors. To order tickets, or for more information, please visit MCP’s website at www.monmouthcommunityplayers.org, or call (207)370-9566.