The 25th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee Is Positively E-U-D-A-E-M-O-N-I-C
Welcome to KO’s winter production of The 25th Annual Putnam County Spelling, featuring a loveable menagerie of adolescent oddballs competing for the title.
KO’s Theater Department turned out a raucous and professional grade crowd-pleaser directed by Eric Langmeyer. Part spelling bee and part therapy session, the play provides the backstory of six quirky spellers who bring their emotional package with them to the competition. There’s Marcy Park (Remy McCoy '20), a polyglot (count six languages) who lives in a pressure cooker of excellence and receives a visitation from Jesus Christ in the midst of the competition. Leaf Coneybear (Charlie Coxon '19) sports a questionable sartorial style including a bike helmet, cape and a minion t-shirt whose kin remind him is the dumb one in the family. Poor neglected Olive (Maggie Eberle '20) ardently awaits for her father’s arrival at the bee and saves him a seat because her mother is enlightening herself in an ashram in India. The allergy afflicted, fanny back wearing William Barfee (Zach Waskowicz '19) dazzles the competition by spelling his words out with his magic foot. Logainne Schwartz-and-Gribenierre (Kate Brough '19) is saddled with a speech impediment and two overbearing dads. And Chip (Varun Tankala '18) is eliminated from the competition by an unfortunate and ill-timed distracting physical urge.
The dialogue was snappy, and the one-liners, written by Dan Carroll '19 who also played Principal Panch, one of the bee’s moderators, was on-point. When the bee contestants asked for their word in a sentence, Principal Panch delivered irreverent and oftentimes thoroughly unhelpful guidance. To wit: How do you spell phylactery (a small box containing Hebrew text when praying)? Principal Panch offers, “Billy, put down the phylactery. We’re Episcopalian.” To the delight of the audience, KO science teacher, Fritz Goodman, made a cameo in Friday's performance as a bee contestant where we learned that he has a lower back tattoo stating “Plants are Better Than People”. Rona Perretti (Olivia Coxon '19) played the straight man and kept things moving as the play’s other moderator and repeatedly spells the word s-y-z-y-g-y perhaps from a past trauma suffered from her own spelling bee experience.
Through the hilarity, one feeling emerges and that is the soft spot the audience develops for the underdog, the vulnerable. The audience roots for each of these kooky characters as they have their moment in the sun and come into their own. As Langmeyer wrote in the playbill, “Awkward and gawky, honest and emotional, (and no, I don’t mean my cast) these six spellers are more than just here for our amusement; they are us. They represent who we were at that age and the child inside.”
Located in West Hartford, CT just steps from Blue Back Square, Kingswood Oxford is a private school inspiring co-ed day students in grades 6-12 with a college preparatory curriculum. Empowered students become clear confident communicators, resourceful problem-solvers, and ethical leaders. KO: where unlimited potential meets endless opportunities.