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Alma College Theatre Presents Musical Theatre Favorite

Winning requires more than just spelling words correctly in the “The 25th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee.”

Alma College Theatre brings its 2017-18 performance season to a dramatic conclusion with the Tony Award-winning musical comedy “The 25th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee.”

The play’s concept comes from Rebecca Feldmon with additional material from Jay Reiss, music and lyrics by William Finn, and the book by Rachel Sheinkin. Since it was first performed in 2004, “The 25th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee” has become a musical theatre favorite.

Performance times are 7:30 p.m. Wednesday, April 11, Thursday, April 12, Friday, April 13 and Saturday, April 14 in the Remick Heritage Center. Tickets are $15 for adults, $5 for seniors 62 and up, and free for Alma College staff, students and youth 18 and under. Seating is reserved. Call (989) 463-7304 for ticket information.

“Musicals call on the talents of lots of people besides the stage director,” says Visiting Director Carolyn Gillespie. “Dr. Barbara Burdick is managing the musical direction, with local pianist Al Bartholomew as accompanist, and Ben Munisteri from the dance program is doing the choreography. They’ve been terrific, as have the designers and student stage managers.”

The play centers on a county spelling competition between a group of socially awkward middle school students. Victory at this bee could mean advancing to represent Putnam County at the national spelling bee in Washington, D.C. However, winning requires more than just spelling words correctly.

In order to be triumphant, the students must also deal with common pre-adolescent anxieties and family complications, many of which lead to humorous anecdotes as the students propel to new levels of self-awareness.

Scott Mackenzie, the faculty chair of theatre and dance at Alma College, was a student of Gillespie during his undergraduate studies at the University of Texas at Dallas.

“I’ve known Scott Mackenzie for over 30 years now, and there is something ‘full-circle’ about directing a piece for the department that he chairs,” says Gillespie.

“All together the Alma College crew has been exceptionally welcoming and generous with their time and creative talents,” says Gillespie. “The faculty and staff have been creative, responsive and timely as they treat everyone with the utmost respect and patience. There is something good going on here at Alma.”

Student actors include:

  • Merek Alam, Davison sophomore
  • Jacob Bendele, St. Johns sophomore
  • Rachel Blome, Indian River first-year student
  • Tyra Briscoe, Farmington Hills first-year student
  • Daniel Chalice, Fennville first-year student
  • Carly Christie, Bay City first-year student
  • Sasha Dudock, Davaison first-year student
  • Zachary Everly, Monroe first-year student
  • Conner Garma, West Branch sophomore
  • Hannah Gibbs, Paw Paw first-year student
  • Joe Harrison, Belding sophomore
  • Chapin Kartsounes, Fenton first-year student
  • Bridget McCaffrey, Grand Rapids first-year student
  • Michael Oliver, Byfield, Mass., first-year student
Story published on April 04, 2018