The Monmouth Community Players have announced the cast of its upcoming spring musical “The 25th annual Putnam County Spelling Bee.”

The show will be performed at 7:30 p.m. Friday and Saturday, April 20-21 and 27-28 and at 2 p.m. Sunday, April 22 and 29, at the Cumston Hall, 796 Main St. in Monmouth.

Winner of the Tony and the Drama Desk Awards for Best Book, featuring a fast-paced, funny and touching book by Rachel Sheinkin and a truly fresh and vibrant score by William Finn, this spelling bee is sure to be one unforgettable experience. The production team includes Director Josie French, Musical Director Steve Barter, Assistant Director Tim MacLeod and Producer Cindy Dunham.

The show follows six middle schoolers competing in their county spelling bee for a spot in the national bee. Moderated by the winner of the third annual bee, Rona Lisa Peretti (Karen Lipovsky, of Monmouth), and vice principal Douglas Panch (David Marshall, of Monmouth), attendees can learn about the contestants’ backstories and idiosyncratic quirks through song and dance. These kids are frighteningly competitive, treating the bee as if it were the Olympic games.

Though, as with most competitions, there can be only one winner, and those who fail to achieve their goal are sent away with a hug and a juice box from the bee’s comfort counselor, Mitch Mahoney (Chad Jacobson, of Topsham).

The first contestant is Boy Scout Chip Tolentino (Ethan Rombalski, of Turner) who finds himself assaulted by puberty at an inopportune moment. Next is Logainne Schwartz and Grubenierre (Maya Veilleux and Alexa Gallant, both of Augusta), a politically active speller with a lisp that makes her somewhat unintelligible at times. The tender-hearted Leaf Coneybear (Tim MacLeod, of Auburn) was invited to the bee because the winner and first runner-up of his own district’s bee went to the winner’s Bat Mitzvah. William Barfée (Danny Gay, of Auburn) is the uptight runner-up of last year’s bee with only one working nostril and a sea anemone circus in his basement. Marcy Park (Megan Record, of Auburn) is a high-achieving student with a multitude of talents. Finally, there is Olive Ostrovsky (Sarah Flagg, of Westbrook), a kind and bright young girl who loves her dictionary.

On the surface, Putnam is an absurd and whimsical glimpse into the world of children’s competitive spelling, but strewn throughout are small moments of bitter realism. These moments are brought to life through a strong ensemble of characters portrayed by Jane Mitchell, of Greene; Andy Tolman, of Readfield; Sarah Wheatley, of Old Town; Jeff Fairfield, of Hallowell; Amy Griswold, Ginger Smith and Cindy Dunham, all of Winthrop; Henry Quintal, of Augusta; Ann-Marie Caron and Nancy Kenneally, both of Lewiston; and Ray Fletcher and John Lipovsky, both of Monmouth.

Putnam may be about a group of eccentric children, but it also touches on real issues about childhood that is familiar to everyone. So take a night off and watch others navigate the perils of middle school.

Tickets cost $14 for adults or $12 for students and seniors.

For tickets, or for more information, visit monmouthcommunityplayers.org or call 370-9566.

filed under: