A Review of “The 25th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee”


Mr. Dema has done it again! Casady School kicked off 2018 with bang and the production of the 25th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee. In their second production of the year, Casady students performed with just as much intensity and heart as they did in the first.

The story follows the contestants of a spelling bee as they attempt to win the bee and a chance to go to Washington D.C. As they spell their words, the contestants share quirky and emotional stories from their lives. As each competitor either moves to the next round or hears the sound of the dreaded bell, the audience gains insight into their unique personalities. We see Olive Ostrovsky (Jr. Kate Williams) as she waits and hopes for parents that never show, William Barfée (Sr. Will Bennett) as he makes a difficult and daunting decision, and Marcy Park (Jr. Kaili Nguyen) as she struggles with the expectations placed on her. The other contestants, Leaf Coneybear (Soph. Noah Youmans), Logainne SchwartzandGrubenierre (Jr. Courtney Melton), and “Chip” Tolentino (Sr. Jackson Davis), face similar challenges as they do their best to spell increasingly and wildly difficult words. However, there can only be one winner of the spelling bee, and five of the spellers are sent packing, each with varying degrees of disappointment evident on their faces.

The musical was a success, thanks in large part to Mr. Dema’s tireless work as director. However, he was not the only person to make the musical possible. Thanks is also owed to Ms. McQuade, for her work as technical director, Ashley Davis for choreography, Mrs. Nielsen for her work as the performing arts chair, and Mr. Jobe for his endless work with all the music. Together, they worked to make the musical the spectacular show it was, and along with the stunning performances of the cast members, the event was a memorable experience.

This year, after performing the musical at the end of February, the cast kicked it into high gear to rework the show for yet another performance in less than 7 weeks. The two-hour musical was condensed into less than an hour for ISAS, the music festival that took place on April 12-14. When seen in the shorter showcase version, many of the original songs and plot points were missing, but overall, the musical was still a hit. When I interviewed several audience members, most of them noted the slightly confusing missing pieces, but it did not seem to inhibit the experience. As for the cast, Courtney Lee, who played Logainne SchwartzandGrubenierre, said the “rehearsals were absolutely so much fun and it was so good to be around all the theater kids again.” Ultimately, she said, the cast wasn’t “worrying about being the absolute best, we were just mainly focused on making it the happiest and greatest last performance.”

Next year, we can look forward to more great performances in the musical, the Little Shop of Horrors.