25th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee at Mattie Kelly Arts Center

11/24/2008


The national tour of the Tony Award-winning musical comedy, The 25th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee, will appear for one night only, January 12, 2009 at the Mattie Kelly Arts Center on the Niceville Campus of Northwest Florida State College (formerly Okaloosa-Walton College). Tickets are now on sale for $45 each. A group discount of $5 off per ticket is available for groups of 10 or more tickets purchased together. Tickets are available by phone, web or in-person from the center's box office at (850) 729-6000, toll free 1-888-838-ARTS (2787) or on-line at www.mattiekellyartscenter.org. Box office hours for phone or in-person ticket sales are Monday to Friday from 9:00 am to 4:00 pm. The box office will also open at 6:00 pm the night of the show for any available at-the-door ticket sales.

This hilarious tale of overachievers' angst chronicles the experience of six adolescent outsiders vying for the spelling championship of a lifetime In The 25th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee, six young people in the throes of puberty, overseen by grown-ups who barely managed to escape childhood themselves, learn that winning isn't everything and that losing doesn't necessarily make you a loser. This tuneful, offbeat and at times heartwarming show offers audience members the opportunity (strictly voluntary) to become part of the action as on-stage spellers.

According to Dr. Cliff Herron, executive director of the Mattie Kelly Arts Center, the show should be considered a mild PG-13 for some mature language/themes presented in the show's humorous songs. According to reviews which have appeared in the New York Times, "Spelling Bee is riotously funny and remarkably ingenious. Gold stars all around." In the Wall Street Journal, Spelling Bee was called, "perfect in every possible way - that rarity of rarities, a super-smart musical that is also a bona fide crowd-pleaser. An ingenious blend of simplicity and sophistication, it's not merely funny, it's wise." Herron concurred that the center booked the show because it's, "One of the hottest, funniest productions now on tour."

The show's Tony Award winning creative team created the unlikeliest of hit musicals about the unlikeliest of heroes -- a quirky 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. "The 25th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee" started as a non-musical play entitled C-R-E-P-U-S-C-L-E, done by the improvisational group "The Farm" in New York City. One of the performers in the play, Sarah Saltzberg, happened to be the nanny of the playwright Wendy Wasserstein (The Heidi Chronicles). Wasserstein was impressed by what she saw and suggested to friend William Finn (Falsettos) that he may be able to take the show to the next level. Finn, his former student Rachel Sheinkin, and C-R-E-P-U-S-C-L-E creator Rebecca Feldman worked together to turn the piece into a full-length musical.

In 2004, Spelling Bee premiered at Barrington Stage Company in Sheffield, Massachusetts and later moved to Off-Broadway's Second Stage Theatre, where it quickly sold out its original stay and was extended due to glowing reviews and powerful word of mouth. The show broke box office records at Second Stage and moved to Broadway in 2005 winning rave reviews and two 2005 Tony Awards.

Starring in The 25th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee are Katie Boren (Marcy Park), Roberta Duchak (Rona Lisa Peretti), James Kall (Douglas Panch), Andrew Keenan-Bolger (Leaf Coneybear), Justin Keyes (Chip Tolentino), Kevin Smith Kirkwood (Mitch Mahoney), Vanessa Ray (Olive Ostrovsky), Eric Roediger (William Barfee), and Dana Steingold (Logainne Schwartzandgrubenierre).

Spelling Bee is directed by James Lapine, the Tony Award and Pulitzer Prize-winner (Sunday in the Park with George, Into the Woods) who also directed the Broadway production. The musical, conceived by Rebecca Feldman, with additional material written by Jay Reiss, features music and lyrics by Tony Award-winner William Finn (Falsettos, Elegies, A New Brain) and a Tony Award-winning book by Rachel Sheinkin. Spelling Bee features scenic design by Beowulf Boritt, costume design by Jennifer Caprio, lighting design by Natasha Katz, sound design by Dan Moses Schreier and choreography by Dan Knechtges. Spelling Bee is produced by David Stone, James L. Nederlander, Barbara Whitman, Patrick Catullo, Barrington Stage Co. and Second Stage Theatre.

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