The Tony Award winning musical The 25th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee, conceived by Rebecca Feldman with music and lyrics by William Finn, book by Rachel Sheinkin and additional material by Jay Reiss, will be performed in Parker Theatre on the campus of the State University of New York at New Paltz starting September 26th.
Directed and choreographed by Joe Langworth with musical direction by Sarah Brett England, the show is being produced by the Department of Theatre Arts.
The show centers on a fictional spelling bee set in the Putnam Valley Middle School. Six quirky adolescents compete in the Bee which is run by three equally quirky grown-ups. Through witty dialogue, utilizing current topical headlines and a beautiful musical score, we get to know each of the spellers and the challenges they face as they navigate their way through the awkwardness of adolescence. In spite of the competitive nature of the bee, the spellers each learn something about themselves and who they will be in the looming adult world. A unique twist on this production is that theatre-goers can actually be in the show. Audience volunteers will be recruited before each show to participate on stage as “guest spellers,” guaranteeing a new set of hilarious and unexpected experiences.
Langworth is a Broadway veteran, having performed in such shows as Ragtime and A Chorus Line. As a director and choreographer he has collaborated on such productions as Lincoln Center Theater’s revival of South Pacific and the Tony Award nominated play Next Fall. Last spring he had pleasure of working alongside theatre department chair, Jack Wade, as choreographer for the well-received production of Mel Brooks’, The Producers.
Sarah Brett England has musically directed and accompanied more than 70 shows throughout the country, with credits at Barrington Stage Company, Surflight Theatre, Texas Family Musicals, New Harmony Theatre, Circa ’21 Dinner Theatre, Nebraska Theatre Caravan, Jenny Wiley Theatre, Ocean City Theatre Company, and Virginia Shakespeare Festival. She wrote the vocal arrangement for “Happy Hanukkah” (music and lyrics by Carol Boyd Leon), which debuted at the Encore Chorale’s holiday concert at the Kennedy Center in Washington, D.C. in 2008. She has also edited the music of Carol Boyd Leon’s song books, “Songs from the Heart,” “Jewish Life Cycle,” “Gan Shirim,” and “Voices in Prayer.” Additionally, England wrote arrangements for “Halloween Hullabaloo,” a musical revue by Jennifer Winegardner, and “Welcome to Shoofly,” a new musical by Justin Anthony and Jonathan Lee.
The show’s principal designers are department co-chair, Ken Goldstein — set design; Theatre Major, Johnathan Buckmaster — costume design; Driscoll Otto — lighting design and sound design by Theater Major, Eric Glauber. The production is being supervised by theatre department faculty member, Chris Noble.
The 25th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee runs on Thursdays through Sundays from September 26th through October 20th. Thursday, Friday and Saturday performances will be at 8pm with Sunday matinees at 2pm.
The featured image above is of the cast:
L to R: Jenna Kate Karn, Nick Magnanti, Berlande Millus, James Donaldson, Dean Mahoney and Analise Rios
Ticket are $20 general admission; $18 seniors and SUNY Faculty/Staff; students, $10. Tickets can be purchased at the Box Office located in Parker Theatre. Call the box office at 845 – 257-3880 or reserve online now at: www.newpaltz.edu/theatre.