The 25th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee to be presented by the Fine Arts Department

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The 25th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee to be presented by the Fine Arts Department

Photo by Jodi Kutzner.

Photo by Jodi Kutzner.

Photo by Jodi Kutzner.

Photo by Jodi Kutzner.

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From November 9-11 at 7:30 p.m. in the JFK Auditorium, the Department of Fine Arts will present the musical The 25th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee. There will also be a 2 p.m. matinee show on November 11.

This award-winning musical comedy presents the story of a group of middle school students competing in a local spelling bee, trying to secure a spot at the National Spelling Bee in Washington D.C.

The quirkiness of each character and the improvisation of the show bring an added humor.

“This is the most difficult show we’ve ever done,” said F.J. Hartland, director of the show. “The music is very difficult.”

What makes this musical different from previous musicals at Saint Francis is the audience interaction in the show.

“We’re actually bringing people out of the audience to be the other spellers, and they’re part of the show,” said Hartland.

Nine students complete the cast: Ryan Conway, David Danielson, Melinda Holena, Jonathan Kirk, Kyrsten Kowalczyk, Jodi Kutzner, Adam Russell, Sean Sifford and Rose Stock.

“Musicals have always been a passion of mine and something I was really invested in when I was younger,” said Jodi Kutzner, a senior who has participated in three musicals at Saint Francis.

“The fact that I can do it here at Saint Francis and really express my abilities is something that I absolutely love,” Kutzner continued.

Rehearsals for the musical have been occurring since the third week of the semester. First, the students learned the music with Andrea Mulligan, an adjunct professor of music. From there, the students had acting rehearsals, tech rehearsals, and costume fittings.

“They have worked so hard,” said Hartland. “I’m really proud of them. It’s a lot when you’re going to school full-time and with the show.”

The 25th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee is an original Broadway production with the music and lyrics written by William Finn and based off a book by Rachel Sheinkin. The show was nominated for six Tony awards, two of which it won.

Due to some mature content, children under the age of 12 are not recommended for the show.

General admission is $10. The event is free for all Saint Francis students, faculty and staff. Tickets will be sold at the doors prior to each show.

“I think the theater department is very flexible with everything that we do,” said Kutzner. “The people we work with and the whole program itself is just wonderful.”

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