Weber State University’s theatre department is putting on the musical “The 25th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee” Oct. 7-15 at the Allred Theatre to showcase student talent.
“This will really show off the department and show off the talents we have,” Bradley Veith, visiting assistant professor of theatre, said. “This has a wide audience appeal as well because it appeals to all ages.”
The plot of the play is based around six middle school students competing in a county-level spelling bee.
“It’s quite a high-stakes story. They’re all sort of ‘The Island of Misfit Toys,’” Vieth said. “Some of them feel outcast or quirky, but they have a developed intellect.”
Sixteen Weber State students are part of the musical’s cast, including four understudies, but they are not the only ones taking part in the play.
Before the musical begins, several audience members are asked if they are good spellers. If they believe they are, then they could be part of the show.
“The great part of the show is the audience participation,” Vieth said. “Every night, we’ll have four spellers picked randomly from the audience. They’re actually brought up on stage to spell. The audience just eats that up.”
Since audience members are part of the play, the cast has learned to improvise with the actions of those who joined them onstage.
“Because of the audience participation, there are places where we go off script depending on what is going on with the guest spellers,” Vieth said, “so every show is completely different to the one before and the one after. I would say it’s even good for folks to come see it more than once because you’ll see a different show every time you come.”
Written by Rachel Sheinkin, the musical has been performed on and off Broadway and has received several awards in outstanding performance.
“Everybody in the audience is going to identify with at least one of the characters on stage,” Vieth said. “I think that in the winning of the contest, we have to ask ourselves, is winning really the most important thing?”
Students can attend a free performance of the play on Oct. 11 at 7:30 p.m. with their Wildcat card.
While the musical is put on by the theatre department, all students are invited to become an active member of the on-going theatre programs.
Vieth mentioned that all students, regardless of major, are invited to audition for any and all performances put on by the theatre department.
“The 25th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee” will be showing Oct. 7–8 and 11–15, beginning at 7:30 p.m. at the Allred Theatre located in the Browning Center.
The theatre department hopes that this musical will be a S-U-C-C-E-S-S.