“The 25th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee” Produced by UTC Department of Theatre

The University of Tennessee at Chattanooga Department of Theatre and Speech presents this Tony Award winning musical comedy written by Rachel Sheinkin with music  and lyrics by William Finn and conceived by Rebecca Feldman.     Here’s more about UTC’s production from the press release:

UTC Theatre continues its 2011-2012 Season with the musical, “The 25th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee” running November 11th, 12th, and 16th, 17th, 18th, and 19th in the Dorothy Hackett Ward Theatre, located in the UTC Fine Arts Center at the corner of Vine and Palmetto Streets. Curtain is at 7:30 pm, and free parking is available in nearby university lots. Tickets are $12 for students, seniors, and alumni and $15 for the general public and are available at the UTC Fine Arts Center Box Office during the week 10 am to 4 pm, and at the theatre the night of performances.The 25th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee is a musical that centers on that most competitive of all intellectual pursuits- the chance to advance to the National Spelling Bee finals in Washington DC. The slightly eccentric cast of over- (and under-) achievers face their fears, dreams and hopes as they spell their way to glorious success, or abject failure. This musical will not only delight audiences, it gives them a chance to participate! 4 audience members will be selected each night to get up on stage and test their spelling ability.

UTC Theatre Faculty member Gaye Jeffers directed The 25th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee. The show features the talents of UTC students Savannah Daigle, Michael Haggarty, Stephanie Hirsh, Alex Whittle, Megan Cobb, Brandon McCravy, Nicole Pavol, Maggie McNulty and Blake Harris. Tim Hinck provided musical direction and will conduct the orchestra. UTC Theatre faculty member Steve Ray designed the set and props. Award-winning UTC costume designer Sydney Roberts fashioned the costumes, and UTC Theatre faculty member John R. Burgess designed the lighting and led the technical direction. Guest scenic artist Dottie Mae Youell painted the set and resident Technical Specialist Larry Brick supervised construction.

The 25th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee has humble roots, explains Jeffers.    This Broadway musical was created by an improvisational company called The Farm as a play called Crepiscule.   And it just so happened that the Nanny of Pulitzer Prize winning playwright Wendy Washerstein was involved in the production and invited Washerstein to come see it.     Then the playwright invited her friend, musical writer and director James Lapine to a performance of Crepiscule and from there a collaboration was formed between them to turn this play into the 2-time Tony Award winning Broadway musical hit.   In Jeffers words, “It went from a bare bones, really kind of improv based” play with a, “Handful of friends making theatre to grew, grew, grew and it wound up on Broadway.”

Reporting: Monessa Guilfoil

Listen to the Story with director and cast:

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