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The 25th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee

Book by Rachel Sheinkin
Score by William Finn
Conceived by Rebecca Feldman

Show Synopsis

Putnam Valley Middle School is hosting the county spelling finals. Six quirky adolescents compete in a spelling bee run by three equally quirky grown-ups. “Spelling Bee” is a hit musical about the unlikeliest of heroes: an eccentric yet charming cast of outsiders for whom a spelling bee is the one place where they can stand out and fit in at the same time. While candidly disclosing hilarious and touching stories from their home lives, the tweens spell their way through a series of (potentially made-up) words, hoping never to hear the soul-crushing "ding" of the bell that signals a spelling mistake. Four audience members come on stage to join the cast and compete in the Bee alongside the six young characters giving an improv feel to parts of the show. “Bee” is the epitome of an ensemble cast.

Character Descriptions

RONA LISA PERETTI: This former Spelling Bee champ is the county's top realtor. She is incredibly kind to the spellers, having been in their shoes many years earlier. She is a sweet woman who loves children, but she can be very stern when it comes to dealing with Vice Principal Panch and his feelings for her. Her interest in the competition is unflagging and drives it forward. (Mezzo-Soprano B3-F5) This actor should have both a high belt and improv skills. Along with Panch, she guides the comedy of the show and the audience volunteers.

VICE PRINCIPAL DOUGLAS PANCH: Frustrated with his life, he finds the drive of the young spellers alien to him. He was involved in an "incident" at the Twentieth Annual Bee that got him removed from the judging panel. After five years' absence from the Bee, Panch returns as judge, in "a better place,” thanks to a high-fiber diet and therapy. He is infatuated with Rona Lisa Peretti, but she does not return his affections. A strong character actor with impeccable comic timing and the ability to improv.

CHIP TOLENTINO: Last Year's champion, he returns to defend his title, but he finds puberty hitting at an inopportune moment. An athletic, social, boy scout, Chip is strong willed, competitive and ambitious. (Tenor C3-B4) This role has some of the most difficult singing in the show and requires long sustained high notes.

LOGAINNE SCHWARTZANDGRUNIERRE (SCHWARTZY): Logainne is the youngest and most politically aware speller, often making comments about current political figures and her mature world views. She is driven by internal and external pressure, but above all by a desire to win to make her two fathers proud. She is somewhat of a neat freak, speaks with a lisp, and will be back next year, (Mezzo-Soprano A3-F5)

LEAF CONEYBEAR: As just the second runner-up in his district's Bee, he really shouldn't be competing here and finds everything about the Bee incredibly amusing. He is home-schooled, comes from a large family of former hippies, makes his own clothes and lacks social skills. Leaf is strange but very sweet, loving and kindhearted. Leaf has severe ADD and spells words correctly while in trance. (Tenor A2-A4) This role allows a ton of personal interpretation and requires physical comedy.

WILLIAM BARFEE: A Putnam County Spelling Bee finalist last year, he was eliminated because of an allergic reaction to peanuts and is back for vindication. He has no interest in making friends at the Bee. His famous "Magic Foot" method of spelling has boosted him to spelling glory, even though he only has one working nostril and a touchy, bullying personality. He develops a crush on Olive. (Tenor E2-B4) Requires a strong character actor with impeccable comic timing and the ability to create his own character.

MARCY PARK: Marcy is the most feared and practiced competitor in the Bee. She made it all the way to ninth place in Nationals last year and is back to win again. She speaks six languages, is a member of all-American hockey, a championship rugby player, plays Chopin and Mozart on multiple instruments, sleeps only three hours a night, and is getting very tired of always winning. She does not recognize her own lack of humor and is incredibly intense. She is the poster child for the over-achieving student, and attends a Catholic school called "Our Lady of Intermittent Sorrows." She is also not allowed to cry. (Mezzo-Soprano C4-E5) We would prefer an actress with unique talents (i.e. playing piano, twirling batons, juggling, gymnastics) but are open to all interpretations.

OLIVE OSTROVSKY: A young newcomer to competitive spelling. The heart of the show. Olive’s mom is in an Ashram in India and her dad never shows up, even after promising that, this time, he'll try to make it. Her best friend is a dictionary. She starts enormously shy, and shyly blossoms. (Mezzo-Soprano B3-F5) Requires an actress who, despite her meek appearance, has an incredibly strong voice and belt.

MITCH (MEG) MAHONEY: The Official Comfort Counselor. A former felon, Mitch is fulfilling his court ordered community service at the Bee as the Bee’s “comfort counselor,” handing our juice boxes and a dose of reality to the losers. He comes across as scary and tough but is really a big softy deep down. He has no idea how to offer comfort, but does find himself wishing he could find a way to make the kids feel better. (Tenor E4-A5)

CARL DAD: Schwarzy's main trainer, the more intense and competitive of Schwarzy's fathers. Normally played by actor playing Leaf.

DAN DAD: The more laid back and ineffectual of Schwarzy's fathers. Normally played by the actor playing Mitch.

JESUS CHRIST: Deity invoked by a speller in need. Normally played by the actor playing Chip.

LEAF'S MOM, DAD and SIBLINGS: All more academically gifted than Leaf, they are even more surprised than he is by his success. Normally played by the spellers and audience volunteers as indicated in the script.

OLIVE'S DAD: A fantasy version of Olive's dad coming to the Bee from work. Normally played by the actors playing Mitch or Panch.

OLIVE'S MOM: A fantasy version of Olive's mom at her Ashram in India. Normally played by the actor playing Rona.

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Diane Kamrin
Email: dkstars2000@yahoo.com

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