The SUNY Fredonia Department of Theatre and Dance will open the 2011-12 Walter Gloor Mainstage Series with the award-winning Broadway musical comedy "The 25th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee."
Six performances are planned in Marvel Theatre: Friday, Oct. 21; Saturday, Oct. 22; Thursday, Oct. 27; Friday, Oct. 28 and Saturday, Oct. 29 at 8 p.m. There will also be a matinee on Sunday, Oct. 23 at 2 p.m. This production is in cooperation with the School of Music.
"The 25th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee" tells the tale of a group of middle school students who - in the throes of competition and puberty - learn winning isn't everything and losing doesn't make you a loser.
Star spellers Barfee (Richard Rosenthal), Schwaryz (Madison Osgood), Olive (Theresa Egloff), Leaf (Steve Russell), Chip (Raphael Santos) and Marcy (Rachel Mulcahy) compete for the title in the SUNY Fredonia production of “The 25th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee,” which runs from Oct. 21 to 29 in Marvel Theatre.
This modern musical comedy made its Broadway debut in 2005 and was nominated for six Tony Awards, winning two. A national tour followed.
Directing the Mainstage production is Dr. Jessica Hillman, assistant professor in the Department of Theatre and Dance, who directed "The Sound of Music" last season.
"It's a very funny and very touching story," Dr. Hillman said. "It's a fun musical to go to."
She explained it will be an interactive production with select willing audience members having an opportunity to be part of the show by playing participants in the spelling bee.
"If people are willing, they will have the chance to be selected to be part of the spelling bee," Dr. Hillman said.
In addition, the creative team for the production is transforming Marvel Theatre and its lobby to resemble the school gymnasium/auditorium in which the story takes place.
"One of the exciting parts is that this is an immersive production," Dr. Hillman explained. "The audience members will feel like they're actually at the bee. This is a different type of set design. It started last February or March - we have a lot of talented design students in our department."
More than 50 students are involved in the production, from the cast to the orchestra to the production and backstage crews.
"Things are coming together wonderfully - we have a great cast, crew and production staff," Dr. Hillman said. "This show is going to be very funny and touching at the same time. I think people will really like it."
The show sponsor is Midtown Realty. The Walter Gloor Mainstage Series is part of the 2011-12 Lake Shore Savings Season.
Tickets are available through the SUNY Fredonia Ticket Office in the modular complex in the Dods Hall parking lot across from the Williams Center, by phone at 673-3501 or online at fredonia.edu/tickets.