‘Putnam County Spelling Bee’ is F-U-N


Courtesy of Claire Paul

“The 25th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee” Cast

During the opening night of “The 25th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee” at Mamiya Theatre on Friday, four audience members were forced to dig deep in their brains for some elusive words. 

Brought up on stage and incorporated as part of the production, they were asked to spell random words like “Cow” (to big audience chuckles) and “Apoop” (to the audience’s confusion).

That kind of audience participation makes “The 25th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee” a fun, unique atmosphere. 

“My favorite part of the play has got to be the audience participation,” said CUH sophomore Kainoa Enos, who plays Leaf Coneybear, one of the play’s contestants. “I mean being able to have that sort of interaction with the audience, getting them involved is such a cool and creative way to introduce theater to people that don’t know theater.”

The “Spelling Bee” held three performances last week and will finish with three more performances (Friday night, Saturday night and Sunday afternoon) this upcoming weekend.

“Opening weekend, performance wise has been wonderful…,” said director of “The 25th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee” Bro. Gary Morris.

“The 25th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee” is about six young overachievers that participate in a spelling bee competition. Throughout the competition, overseen by two adults, the young overachievers all sing, dance, and even joke about their larger-than-life problems that include, perfectionism, puberty, and fitting in outside of the spelling bee competition.

Throughout the musical, each character sang about situations that they were going through all while participating in a spelling bee competition. Olive Ostrovsky, played by CUH sophomore ‘Aulani Oka, whose only friend was a dictionary, came to the competition alone and disappointed because her parents weren’t there to watch her compete. Logainne Schwartzandgrubenniere, played by Kimberlee Stone, tried living up to the high expectations of her two homosexual fathers.

Marcy Park, played by CUH sophomore Sofia Vela, is the definition of an overachiever. Singing about knowing six languages and that she is the best , Marcy sees herself as perfect. Leaf Coneybear, played by Kainoa Enos, sang about the disbelief of him parents who didn’t think that he was smart enough to win the spelling bee competition and his inner battle of if he should actually be there or not.

Chip Tolentino, played by Anthony Lee, sang to his crush, Marigold Coneybear, and the woes of puberty. William Barfée [pronounced Bar-FAY], played by CUH freshman Angelo Oasay, has a magic foot that helps him spell words, throughout the play Barfée fights both Rona Lisa Perretti, played by Suzanne Green, and Vice Principal Douglas Panch, played by Robert Iokepa, about the pronunciation of his name.

This musical did not only have funny moments and interesting back stories but it also had great songs and the voices of the cast were strong. Preparing through voice lessons made possible through a $10,000 grant by the Orvis Foundation, personal singing lessons for cast members of the “The 25th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee” paid off. 

“I like to sing but I don’t know if I am a natural singer,” said Angelo Oasay, who plays William Barfée. “Preparing was fun, it is a fun character … you just have to get into the mindset, read the script and really know your character.”

If you missed the show opening weekend there is still time to catch it before production comes to an end.

Chaminade University Performing Arts Spring Musical “The 25th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee” is a 90-minute performance being held at the Mamiya Theatre on Friday and Saturday at 7:30 p.m. and Sunday at 4 p.m.

The Theatre Club will be giving away free tickets to the first ten Chaminade students with I.D.