Cast hits quirky notes in musical ‘Bee’

“The 25th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee,” playing at North Coast Repertory Theatre, captures the intrigue and amusement that unfolds as six quirky adolescents compete in the Bee, run by three equally-quirky grown-ups.

The contestants soon learn the competition is more than just a spelling bee. With many hilarious turn-of-events, it’s also a dividing line between childhood and adulthood. The reactions to misspelled words can’t be guessed and often leave audiences in stitches.

The two-time Tony Award-winning hit musical is directed by Rick Simas, who saw the play before it went to Broadway. Simas, a teacher in San Diego State University’s MFA Musical Theater Program, knew he wanted to direct the play. “Spelling Bee,” ups the excitement of the show each evening by randomly choosing four people to come on stage and be spellers in the performance.

“David (Ellenstein, NCRT artistic director) saw it on Broadway, and was smart enough and quick enough to secure the rights,” Simas said. “I wanted to direct it at the Rep (theater) because it’s the perfect size for this musical, and except for a touring show, this is the first time it will play at a local theater.”

Casting a show of quirky adults and children (ranging in age from 19 to 29) was not easy, especially when the group requires a science nerd, a loopy child of hippie parents, and an over-achiever whose parents are pushing her.

A number of the actors featured have Broadway credits. Robert Barry Fleming (Mitch Mahoney) appeared on Broadway in “Ragtime” and “Stand-Up Tragedy.” He won a 2008 Craig Noel Award for “Outstanding Featured Performance by a Male in a Musical” for “Ain’t Misbehavin” at the San Diego Rep.

Brandon Joel Maier (Chip Tolentino) appeared locally in “Into the Woods,” “The Grapes of Wrath,” and others. Regional credits for Sarah Errington (Logainne Schwarzandgrubenierre) include “Dames at Sea” and “West Side Story.” Jacob Caltrider (Leaf Coneybear) played at NCRT in “A Christmas Carol” and Cygnet’s “Sweeney Todd.”

Omri Schein (William Barfee) appeared in NCRT’s “The Big Bang,” and in New York in “Hell Belle’s” and “The People Vs. Mona.” Cashae Monya’s local credits include “High School Musical” at Starlight Theatre and “Memphis” at the La Jolla Playhouse.

Nicole Werner’s (Olive Ostrovsky) credits include “The Pajama Game” and “42nd Street.” Melinda Gilb (Rona Lisa Peretti) appeared on Broadway in “Singing in the Rain” and off Broadway in “Suds.” Phil Johnson’s (Douglas Panch) Broadway credits include “Les Miserables” and the national tour of “Sunset Boulevard” and “Miss Saigon.”

William Finn, who wrote the music and lyrics, received two Tony Awards as writer and composer of “Falsettos.” Finn’s new musical, “Little Miss Sunshine,” opens at the Playhouse later this year. Simas directed Finn’s “A New Brain” in 2004 at San Diego State.

“The lyrics and the music in this show are quirky and funny, and it’s not easy to write quirky music,” said Simas of Finn’s work.

“Spelling Bee” contains some mature language in the songs and may not be suitable for kids under age 13, but Simas assures audiences will love the show.

“It’s hugely funny and we need good comic relief right now,” he said. “But it also has a lot of heart, moves quickly, and has some sweet, tender moments as well.”


‘The 25th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee’
- When: 7 p.m. Wednesdays, 8 p.m. Thursdays-
Saturdays; 2 p.m. select Saturdays; 2 and 7 p.m. Sundays, through Aug. 1
- Where: North Coast Repertory Theatre, 987 Lomas Santa Fe Drive, Solana Beach
- Tickets: $32-$50; (858) 481-1055, www.northcoastrep.org

Related posts:

  1. Rep turns fairytale into soulful musical comedy
  2. Chorus conductor Eunice Williams hits the high notes
  3. Local kids star in rock musical ’13′
  4. County children give Peanuts gang a musical spin
  5. Teen launches video series

Short URL: http://www.delmartimes.net/?p=2374

Posted by geseanari on Jun 30, 2010. Filed under Archives. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0. You can leave a response or trackback to this entry

Leave a Reply

Archives

Facebook

Bottom Buttons 1

Bottom Buttons 2

Bottom Buttons 3

Bottom Buttons 4

Bottom Buttons 5

Bottom Buttons 6

LA JOLLA NEWS

RSS LA JOLLA NEWS

RANCHO SANTA FE NEWS

RANCHO SANTA FE NEWS

RSS RANCHO SANTA FE NEWS

  • Kent Farrington and Blue Angel to compete at inaugural Longines Los Angeles Masters
    Rancho Santa Fe resident Robin Parsky’s Blue Angel and top world-ranked rider Kent Farrington will participate in the inaugural Longines Los Angeles Masters at the Los Angeles Convention Center Sept. 25-28. More than 25 of the best horse-rider combinations will compete for $1 million in prize money. […]
  • Survey shows community doesn’t support bond for new Rancho Santa Fe School gym at this time
    The Rancho Santa Fe School District has received the results from its community interest survey on the possibility to rebuild the school gym. At a July 21 special board meeting, Superintendent Lindy Delaney reported that 54.3 percent of the community is not interested in supporting a bond on the November ballot at this time. “The results showed us the intere […]
  • Fire sprinkler extinguishes garage fire
    On July 24, at 2:02 a.m., firefighters from the Rancho Santa Fe Fire Protection District responded to a residential fire in the 10000 block of Lone Dove Street in 4S Ranch. When they arrived on scene, firefighters found that a single sprinkler head had activated and extinguished a fire in the garage near the water heater. One person was home at the time and […]