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Charles City High School to present ‘Spelling Bee’ musical in spring

Charles City High School to present ‘Spelling Bee’ musical in spring
By James Grob,

The Charles City High School music and drama departments will present the musical “The 25th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee” as the spring production this year.

Performance dates will be Friday, April 2, at 7 p.m. and Saturday, April 3, at 2 p.m. at North Grand Auditorium. Directors Derek Sturtevant and Michelle Grob said they are hoping conditions will be favorable for an audience, but a final decision will be made on that as opening night draws nearer.

“The 25th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee” is a musical comedy with music and lyrics by William Finn, a book by Rachel Sheinkin, conceived by Rebecca Feldman with additional material by Jay Reiss. The show centers on a fictional spelling bee set in a geographically ambiguous Putnam Valley Middle School. Six quirky adolescents compete in the Bee, run by three equally quirky grown-ups.

Sturtevant said he picked the show because of the flexibility of numbers of students and because it’s an easy set and easy costuming. There is still uncertainty about the impact COVID could have on this production “so we are trying to make decisions that will allow students to have a musical this year,” he said.

The cast and crew of 20 is following social distancing during rehearsals and masks are worn when necessary. Sturtevant said he plans to incorporate masks into the show. Rehearsals have been ongoing since the holiday break, and auditions were held back in December.

Main characters in the show include Chip, played by Anders Haglund; Barfee, played by Griffin Franksain: Leaf, played by Breyer Ellison; Panch, played by Christian Howe; Mitch, played by Sincere Collins; Marcy, played by Avery Merta; Rona, played by Emma Schmiedel; Olive, played by Sophia Jensen; Schwartzy, played by Harper McInroy; Olive’s Mom, played by Teagan Prigge; Leaf’s Mom, played by Rosie Baldus; and Jesus, played by Cade Williams.

The ensemble includes Natalie White, Annemarie Hansen, Sydney Otto, Jillian Mutch, Rosie Baldus and Teagan Prigge.

Typically, CCHS presents a musical in the fall and a play in the spring. Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, Grob and Sturtevant decided to flip that around, and push the musical back to the spring.

The 2005 Broadway production of the musical earned good reviews and box-office success and was nominated for six Tony Awards, winning two, including Best Book. The show has spawned various other productions in the United States, and other countries.

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