Section: Arts

KCP puts on The 25th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee

KCP puts on The 25th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee

The musical was in the Black Box Theater Nov. 3-5. | COURTESY OF AMANDA KUO

On Saturday, the Black Box Theater was filled to the brim for the Kenyon College Players’ performance of The 25th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee, which can only be described as A-M-A-Z-I-N-G.

As the audience walked into the room, they were immediately hit with a fun ambiance including colorful lights shining and flags and streamers filling the walls. From the speakers, theme music from popular children’s TV shows like iCarly and Kim Possible blasted as people made their way to their seats. The entire scene was a great way to create a light-hearted atmosphere before the show.

Spelling Bee began with Rona Lisa Perreti (Charlotte Schultz ’23), a former spelling bee champion, setting up for this year’s Putnam County bee. Schultz filled the stage with her delightful voice and expressive acting. One by one, the contestants of the spelling bee were introduced and given their identifying numbers. The song “The 25th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee” was a wonderful opening number that showcased all of the performers. 

A unique part of the musical was audience participation. A few members of the audience volunteered to be part of the spelling bee and were called onto the stage. Each time the spellers, including the audience participants, were called on to spell words, everyone was told a fun fact about the person. When participant Delaney Gallagher ’23 was called up to the microphone on Saturday night, Vice Principal Panch (Valeria Garcia-Pozo ’23) said Gallagher is starting an on campus student-run bar … allegedly, which left the audience and Gallagher laughing.

Throughout the musical, each character had their own song that highlighted their personality. Some songs were used to explain each of the character’s quirks, like “Magic Foot,” sung by William Barfeé (John Franz ’25). The fun song exemplified Barfeé’s spelling technique: using his foot to write the words on the ground before vocalizing them in the competition. 

The live band added an extra layer to the already incredible performance, featuring a piano, cello, saxophone, drum set, mallets and flute. The band helped the entire cast shine and did a great job playing the colorful songs during the entire musical. “My favorite song was ‘Pandemonium’ because it was just utter chaos. The rehearsal when we learned it was one of the most fun rehearsals I’ve ever been in. I also enjoyed seeing the reactions of the audience during the show — every night they sat in stunned silence while we went crazy on stage, and that was so much fun,” Olivia Griffin-Erickson ’26, who played Marcy Park, wrote to the Collegian.

The pivotal point of the plot was when the competition dwindled down to the final few contestants. Each character wanted to win the bee for individual reasons, some of which were emotional. In “The I Love You Song,” Olive (Ellie Kahle ’25) expressed longing for her mother to come home and her parents to support her. This song not only highlighted Kahle’s beautiful voice, but also showed the talent and coordination of the entire cast, as Olive’s mother (Schultz) and father (Hank Thomas ’24) were played by performers who had to do fast changes from their primary roles as Rona Lisa-Perreti and Chip, respectively.

The song led to the final showdown between Olive and William, when William impressively won the bee. The musical ended with heartwarming sentiments, all of the cast members coming on stage once again and the audience being able to hear what each of them went on to do in the future.

The show was the culmination of months of hard work and a great experience for cast and crew alike. “It was also really nice because even as a first-year member of production crew, I felt really close to and welcomed by the whole cast and crew — by the end it felt like a really tight-knit family which was really special,” Assistant Stage Manager Mariah Szabo ’26 wrote to the Collegian.

“It’s amazing that there is so much raw talent on this campus,” Director Laura Stone ’23 wrote to the Collegian. “I’m lucky that the cast trusted me to guide them and make decisions. By the time we got to opening night, I was so proud of what everyone had accomplished. It was really a team effort.”

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