Reviewd by Brian GodfreyOctober 201
How do you spell ‘absolutely wonderful, excellent entertainment’? Easy peasey – M-A-R-I-E C-L-A-R-K- (apostrophe)-S L-A-T-E-S-T P-R-O-D-U-C-T-I-O-N!
The 25th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee” is one of those small cast musicals that relies on a well drilled, very tight ensemble cast and this version has a bang on one with excellent performances from all nine cast members.
Because the premise of the show involves a primary school Spelling Bee, the majority of the adult cast are required to portray children. This can sometimes go horribly wrong. But thanks to director, Kristin Telfer’s solid vision and tight hand sturdily on the reins, this production goes wonderfully right!
The six ‘children’ are fantastic, with each actor giving memorable fine performances. Alisa James gives us a lovely Olive, whose only friend is the Dictionary (and us after seeing her performance): her song with Joseph Giblin and Sarah Wildy is one of those truly beautiful moments that are quite rare. Emily-Jo Davidson as Logainne Schwartzandgrubenierre ith tremendouth, maintaining her perfect lisp throughout; whilst Naomi Crosby’s straight-faced over-achiever, Marcy is a fine example of not judging a book by its cover.
Angus Robson, Shay Stonelaitken and Ashleigh McFadden are all gloriously hilarious as the ‘boys’ of the group; and if you don’t want to take the ever-hugging, cuddly Stonelaitken home with you, you are made of stone.
The ‘adults’ fare just as well in their performances. Sarah Wildy absolutely shines as the ex-spellimg champ who now comperes the Bee; Jamie Wright is delightfully dry as Vice Principal and Pronouncer Douglas Panch; with Joseph Giblin as a wonderfully, dour ‘bumble bee’ of a Comfort Counsellor.
Director Telfer not only gets it right with the casting, but has peopled her production team with great talent for smooth integration of all the various aspects of a musical. Sarah Whiteley shines in her debut as Musical Director, ensuring a great sounding band and beautiful clarity from all the cast; whilst co-choreographers, Rachel Dow and Rebekah Stonelaitken give us quirky fun dances that suit the over-all style perfectly.
Add Shannon Norfolk’s set and costume designs and Rodney Bates’ lights and sound into the mix and you have one F-A-N-T-A-S-T-I-C production. This flawless show certainly deserves far larger crowds than it had on its first matinee. Don’t BEE the one to miss out.
Photo by Daniel Salmond