Austin College theatre and music students will present The 25th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee, written by Rachel Sheinkin with music and lyrics by William Finn, November 8 through November 10 at 7:30 p.m. each evening in Ida Green Theatre of Ida Green Communication Center. General admission is $8 per person; free with a valid Austin College ID. Tickets will be available at the box office just before each show. The Austin College Improv Troupe will open each performance with a 30-minute set, beginning at 7 p.m. The play includes mild profanity. The production is part of the events of Homecoming and Family Weekend at the College.
The Austin College production is directed by Dr. Kirk Everist of the theatre faculty, who said the play was originally an improv and was turned into a musical. “It has a long Broadway pedigree,” he said, “but it’s also for anybody who loves words. I chose to do the production because it celebrates intelligence.” Dr. Wayne Crannell, associate professor of music, and senior Salina DuClos of Burleson, Texas, are the vocal music directors, and Dr. Ricky Duhaime, professor of music, is the orchestra director. Dr. John McGinn serves as the accompanist.
The show focuses on the participants in a middle school spelling bee and unfolds through the triumphs and defeats of six main competitors, each with peculiarities and distinctive struggles and concerns, and the three administrators of the competition, also caught up in their own personal battles. Through songs that have been described as “hilarious, catchy, and touching” the participants reveal their hopes and dreams as the play progresses.
The cast includes sophomore Abbey Goodman of Austin, Texas, as Rona Lisa Peretti, the spelling bee moderator; junior Hannah Barry of Dallas, Texas, as Dotty Panch, one of the bee’s administrators; freshman Olivia Trusty of Fort Worth, Texas, as Olive Ostrovsky, speller; senior Grace Harrison of Farmersville, Texas, as William Barfee, speller; senior Drew Maienschein of Claremore, Oklahoma, as Leaf Coneybear, speller; senior Abbi Rees of Dallas, Texas, as Logainne SchwartzAndGrubenierre, speller; senior Adam Lehman of Iowa Park, Texas, as Chip Tolentino, speller and the previous year’s champion; senior Caitlin Daniels of Dallas, Texas, as Marcy Park, speller; and sophomore Toni Richardson of Gainesville, Texas, as Mitch Mahoney, another of the bee’s administrators.
The chorus and the claque help to keep the story interesting and move the action along. The chorus includes junior Xan Baker-Livingston of Richardson, Texas; sophomore Baylor Thornton of Dallas, Texas; junior Michael Megenhardt of Houston, Texas; and freshman Grant Garrison of Fort Worth, Texas. The claque includes junior Kyle Andrle of Allen, Texas; senior Robbie Moore of Garland, Texas; junior Kat Forbus of Plano, Texas; senior Rosie Fasullo of El Lago, Texas; freshman Shannon Fagen of Carson City, Nevada; sophomore Charlotte Dolan of Cleburne, Texas; sophomore Nick Chaviers of Houston, Texas; freshman Allie Martinez of Anna, Texas; freshman Vivianna Denittis of Centennial, Colorado; and freshman Harrison Vickmark of McAllen, Texas.
The production staff includes Dan Pucul, theatre staff member, as technical director; Liz Banks, associate professor of theatre, as lighting and set designer; sophomore Harper Jambor of Austin, Texas, as sound designer; junior Ray Seymour of Stafford, Texas, as props designer; sophomore Nick Chaviers of Houston, Texas, and freshman Vivianna Denittis of Centennial, Colorado, as props assistants; Vanessa Baker as costume designer; junior Chloe Schnaible of Allen, Texas, as stage manager; senior Lindsey Apgar of Harker Heights, Texas, and freshman Zoe Crews of River Oaks, Texas, as assistant stage managers; junior Kat Forbus of Plano, Texas, on hair and makeup; and freshman Lily Harris of Austin, Texas, as sound board operator.
Members of the orchestra are sophomore Kaitlin Kelley of Irving, Texas, flute; junior Paola Matus of Sherman, Texas, clarinet; junior Andrew Dawson of Murphy, Texas, cello; associate professor of music John McGinn, piano; associate professor of music Wayne Crannell, synthesizer; guest Roderick Rosser, percussion; and professor of music, Ricky Duhaime, conductor.
Austin College, a private national liberal arts college located north of Dallas in Sherman, Texas, has earned a reputation for excellence in academic preparation, international study, pre-professional foundations, leadership development, committed faculty, and hands-on, adventurous learning opportunities. One of 40 schools profiled in Loren Pope’s influential book Colleges That Change Lives, Austin College boasts a welcoming community that embraces diversity and individuality, with more than 40 percent of students representing ethnic minorities. A residential student body of approximately 1,285 students and a faculty of more than 100 allow a 13:1 student-faculty ratio and personalized attention. The College is related by covenant to the Presbyterian Church (USA) and cultivates an inclusive atmosphere that supports students’ faith journeys regardless of religious tradition. Founded in 1849, the College is the oldest institution of higher education in Texas operating under original name and charter.