Friday, November 4, 2011 marked the opening day of the play, “The 45th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee,” at Fairleigh Dickinson University in Madison, New Jersey. The play was performed and sponsored by the students in Fairleigh Dickinson’s musical theatre department.
The show is a musical comedy centered on a fictional Spelling Bee being held at Putnam County Middle School.
The ensemble cast features six quirky and prepubescent adolescents with three equally eccentric grown-ups. Four audience volunteers are also picked at random to join the cast on stage for the first half of the play.
“I love the dynamic of this play. The fact that the cast is an ensemble really helped all of us connect and no one had to take the spotlight away from another character,” said sophomore Stephanie Windland who played Olive Ostrovsky.
“The set up of the show was unlike anything I’ve been in before. The show was written so that every member of the cast is equally important,” said freshmen Jaclyn Angstreich who played Marcy Park, agreeing with Windland’s sentiments.
Audience member and sophomore Megan Heintz noted that she thought, “The cast worked really well together. It was also funny to watch because I see most of the cast around campus and they’re nothing like the characters they play. I never realized how comedic they could all be.”
“While I was up on stage all of the actors stayed in character. It was weird but amusing to see them stay in character even while they weren’t in the spotlight,” said audience volunteer and junior, Connor Getcom, agreeing with Heintz.
When asked about his surprise participation in the show Getcom said that, “It was a fun experience to be on stage for a while and see the show while in the heat of the action.”
“I really liked seeing the play from the perspective of the actors,” said fellow audience volunteer and sophomore, Sam Williams.
Many audience members asked noted the, “I Love You Song,” sung by Windland, as their favorite part in the play.
“Its about how Olive misses her mother and wishes that she could be here to see her compete in the Spelling Bee. It’s a great contrast to the humor in the rest of the show,” says Windland of the song.
“That song just had so much emotion in it,” said Heintz.
“I always got chills during that song in rehearsals,” said Angstreich.
Overall it seems the show had a successful opening. Angstreich said, “I couldn’t have been happier with everyone’s performance.”