A whole crew of “freshman” — and a couple of sophomores – are in the spotlight in Menlo-Atherton High School’s production of The 25th Annual Putman County Spelling Bee. Four of the six actors playing the roles of spelling bee contestants are freshman, and new drama teacher, Debra-Jean Zwicker-Sobrepena, and new music teacher Kent Kurrus, are partnering in their first production together. (Both pictured below left.)
She said Putman was selected because it “has a lot of great character roles that the students can identify with.” And while the show features six spelling bee contestants, there are many small roles, taking the cast up to 22.
One unique aspect of the show – even when it was on Broadway – is that four audience members are chosen to be contestants. In the M-A version, there will be different teachers fulfilling this role in each of show’s six performances.
At a recent rehearsal we asked the actors playing the spelling bee contestants what prompted them to audition for the musical.
“My dad was getting mad at me for not doing anything with my life,” said #69, freshman Josh Weiner. “I’ve always been a dramatic person and liked singing, so this was perfect.”
“I’ve been doing theater my whole life,” said #111, freshman Rachel Fosnaugh. “One of the reasons I decided to come to M-A is because of the new Performing Arts Center.”
“I was part of M-A drama last year,” said #13 sophomore Maddie Napel. “I met a lot of great people. I’ve also been involved in theater most of my life, and this show is really fun.”
“I’m doing his because I can and because I didn’t have any other theater to do except school theater,” said #7, freshman Will Hanley.
“I started theater in 6th grade and knew I wanted to become a member of M-A International Thespian Society,” said freshman #178 Maddie Rostami. “I thought it would be another opportunity to do theater with a great group.”
“I decided to do it because I had a lot fun in last year’s musical,” said #299, sophomore Matt Schertler. “I like being on stage and like singing.”
The 25th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee premieres on Friday, March 18 at 7:30 pm. There are two performances on Saturday, March 19 – 2:00 pm and 7:30 pm. The final three performances are Thursday, March 24, Friday, March 25, and Saturday March 26 – all at 7:30 pm. Tickets are $12 for adults and $8 for students/seniors; they can be purchased at the Performing Arts Center box office or online.