‘The 25th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee’ takes to the T-H-E-A-T-R-E

Freshman makes debut with Marian theatre


By Jared Smevoll, Spartan Staff

Marian Catholic’s production of The 25th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee will have audiences spelling I-N-C-R-E-D-I-B-L-E! 

The musical is set to debut on Oct. 21 and will have shows following on Oct. 22 and 23. You can find more information on showtimes and ticket prices on the play’s official website. 

The 25th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee focuses on six middle-school students participating in a spelling bee. Each student enters the bee with their own reason to win. As the competition progresses in the Putnam Middle School gym, musical numbers reveal each contestant’s weaknesses and desires. The show is filled with witty, comedic moments as well as true vulnerabilities that we can learn from.  

The original Broadway musical, which was nominated for six Tony Awards, won two for Best Book and Best Featured Actor (Dan Fogler). It later received a nomination for Best Musical Theatre Album at the Grammys. 

Marian Catholic Theater Director Ms. Hilger will direct the fall musical.  

When asked why the Spelling Bee was picked, Ms. Hilger said she knew she had the best group to do it.

 “The 25th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee has always been a special show to me. I knew I had to wait to produce it until the program had the right students to do the show,” Hilger said. “After that year [the 2019-2020 school year], I just knew it would be the perfect fall show for this group by the time they were seniors…I just knew that they were going to grow and develop as performers and storytellers in just the right way to be able to bring such life and excitement to the show.”  


The cast of The 25th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee includes:


Chris Reed (Junior) — Chip Tolentino


Delcena Sawyer (Junior) — Loraine Schwartzandgrubeniere


J Van Beest (Senior) — Leaf Coneybear


Aaron Yock (Senior) — William Barfee


Candice Brennan (Senior) — Marcy Park 


Anjelica Soto (Senior) — Olive Ostrovsky


Trinity Slaughter (Sophomore) — Rona Lisa Peretti 


Marcus Bobbitt (Senior) — Douglas Panch 


Morgan Beamon (Senior) — Mitch Mahoney


Isaiah Gaither (Freshman) — Jesus 


New this year to the Croarkin Auditorium stage is freshman Isaiah Gaither who plays Jesus in the show. Gaither auditioned for the show to see if he was a fit for the Marian Catholic Theatre. 

“I wanted to test myself and see if I could make it in high school theatre. I was very surprised that I made it, and that I am the only freshman in the show,” Gaither said.

The freshman also said that he’s using this show as an opportunity to learn more about acting. 

“I hope to learn more about acting, voice control, and making memories that will last a lifetime,” Gaither said. 

Even with the spotlights off, the cast and crew have been working tirelessly since auditions, which took place in the first week of September. Actors attend rehearsals three days a week where they practice choreography, vocals, and study their character development. 

Behind the stage, Abby Urban, Allison Melvin, Anthony Claxton and Coralie Humbert work hard to help make the show possible. The tech crew is responsible for building sets, costumes, props, as well as sound and lighting during the show.

So. what can you expect from the show? 

“The audience can expect to laugh… a lot!” Hilger said. “It is truly amazing that at any given point they can look at any of the 10 actors and see right into the world of these pre-teens in all of their awkward glory. Each character in the show has a moment to shine.”  


Jared Smevoll is a member of the tech crew for the fall play.