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More Than Just A Spelling Bee

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The set for The 25th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee

The set for The 25th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee

AnneMarie Roggow

AnneMarie Roggow

The set for The 25th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee

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Nothing spells F-A-L-L better than a trip to Putnam County.

The 25th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee follows six kids—Olive, William, Logainne, Marcy, Leaf, and Chip—who are competing in a spelling bee. The bee takes place in Putnam County, New York, at Putnam Valley Middle School. Although all the spellers are competing to win first prize, flashbacks in the play show each of the contestants motives to win, revealing that being number one isn’t everything. Through musical numbers and a variety of characters, the audience can surely find a character to relate to in this humorous and engaging play.

Rehearsal including students (Left to right) Kati Devitt, Brynn Berg, Lauren Bernard, Amanda Jackson and Uzo Ngwu

AnneMarie Roggow
Rehearsal including students (Left to right) Kati Devitt, Brynn Berg, Lauren Bernard, Amanda Jackson and Uzo Ngwu

Every year, Apple Valley High School showcases their annual fall musical. Being a school that emphasises a Triple-A philosophy supporting the arts, athletics, and academics, the musical is a perfect way to let students express themselves through the arts. After directing the musical comedy “Murders of 1940,” one-acts like “Eurydice” and “9 to 5,” director Josh Campbell is back to give us an interactive and energetic performance.

This musical is different from others in the past. Junior stage manager Emily Westcot said, “It’s less reliant on scene shifts to tell the story—there’s one setting, as opposed to previous musicals where several scene shifts happen within a span of a few minutes.”

With this in mind, the actors have all been working hard to immerse themselves into their character. Senior Ari Rotty, who plays Olive Ostrovsky, said, “We all as a cast watched a documentary called “Spellbound” about real elementary schoolers going through a real spelling bee.” As a cast, they worked hard to make the spelling bee experience as realistic as possible. “We were able to watch real reactions to nerves and what the kids did as they were spelling so we could take that to our own characters so they were more relatable and realistic.”

Besides the scene and characterizations, several roles were created to involve more students in this production. Campbell said, “We all worked together on what those characters were for spellers, what was the best words that they should spell, and what their character costumes were.”

In addition to the many characters already in the performance, the bee includes audience members who will become one of the spellers for the night. “There are going to be two guest spellers on stage every night,” said Campbell. “Two people who are just audience members so that just throws the curveball in every night. It’s really fun!”  This keeps both the actors and audience in anticipation to see what will happen next.

One large aspect that is taken into account is the audience. Compared to other musicals performed in the past at AVHS, The 25th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee has a character or issue addressed that at least every student can relate to.

Pit orchestra led by Corey Desens.

AnneMarie Roggow
Pit orchestra led by Corey Desens.

“Some characters share pressures of being a student trying hard to excel, some characters display the struggles of going through changes of growing into a teenager,” said Westcot. “Struggles ranging from pressure to be perfect, to family issues, to feeling inferior to people around you get discussed.”

With characters sharing the pressures of students here at school, the play should surely touch the audience, young and old, in ways that they did not expect. Campbell said, ”The show kind of takes a nostalgic look back on adolescence so the adults will definitely pick up on that.”

The cast and crew has been rehearsing since the middle of September. Although they have been rehearsing for quite some time, the hard work and effort that actors and crew members put forth doesn’t slack. Senior Michael Bourbon, who plays the Janitor and Olive’s Father, said, “Personally, I’ve seen us as a cast bond closer together, and over time we’ve gotten this drive to do well.”

The performances run November 11th and 12th at 7:00 pm, and on November 13th at 2:00 pm. With the relatable characters, engaging plot, and witty jokes, the trip to Putnam County surely won’t disappoint.

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More Than Just A Spelling Bee