Your word is “musical”


Sydney Prather

Gina Goosby rehearses the song “My Friend The Dictionary” with Ms. Williams.

“The 25th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee” will be debuting April 2. Following the comedic story of a middle school spelling contest, “Putnam” addresses the concepts of competition, triumph and failure.

Director William Henry chose this musical for its combination of humor and authenticity.

“It’s probably my favorite show that is producible at a high school,” Henry said. “There are a lot of musicals out there that are darker or heavier that you can’t do in a high school setting, but this show has the right amount of truth and honesty in it while still being fun and somewhat acceptable for high school audiences.”

“Putnam” incorporates some theatrical features that most other plays do not. The production includes voluntary audience participation, giving the actors an opportunity to communicate with spectators.

“It adds a new flavor to the show every night so it’s never exactly the same,” Henry said.

The show, involving 9 characters, requires only a group of actors that is small and intimate. The production is split into two different casts, allowing Henry to sculpt “Putnam” precisely to his liking with smaller, more manageable troupes.

“I get to really see the passion that drives these kids and push them at a level I couldn’t with a larger cast,” Henry said. “It’s really rewarding to see them make those big breakthroughs of characterization, when they truly understand something about themselves or the human condition that you couldn’t get in a lot of other settings.”

Ashley Allen (11) is one of the assistant directors. The job of an assistant director includes ensuring the production goes smoothly, taking care of behind-the-scenes paperwork, making sure the cast is present and punctual and helping the director accomplish his artistic vision.

“For certain scenes I will actually be able to coach the actors throughout the scenes, so I’m very excited to see how they learn and develop through my commentary as well as through the process of being in a musical,” Allen said.

Henry also described “Putnam” as a learning opportunity, giving him the chance to work on his skills with directing and blocking. He has worked with all students in the cast but one before, so he knows, as “veterans of the stage,” they will be willing to work with what he gives them.

Quinn Mulroy (12), who plays Leaf Coneybear, calls “Putnam” a “very silly show.” His character faces a one-of-a-kind challenge in the Spelling Bee.

“He keeps getting these South American rodents as his words that he has to spell,” Mulroy said. “They’re impossible to spell, but he goes into a trance when he spells the words and he gets them right.”

Mulroy is confident that, because “Putnam” involves experienced thespians, many of which have worked together in the past, it will be a success.

“It’ll be one of our best shows, if not, the best musical we’ve done since I’ve been here,” Mulroy said.