“The 25th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee” centers on a fictional spelling bee set in a geographically ambiguous Putnam Valley Middle School. Six quirky adolescents complete in a spelling bee run by three equally quirky grown-ups. An unusual aspect of the show is that four real audience members are selected to come on stage and compete in the bee alongside the six young characters. “The 25th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee” won the 2005 Toy Award for Best Book of a Musical.
Music and Lyrics by William Finn
Book by Rachael Sheinkin
25th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee Preview (Curtain Calls 8.7 May 2013)
The History of Community Players: Part 6 (Curtain Calls 8.7 May 2013, p 3)
Monty Python’s musical version of “Spamalot” was originally scheduled for the closing show of the regular season, but when a touring company played the Peoria area, the rights were revoked. It then became necessary to use the alternate choice of “The 25th Putnam County Spelling Bee.”
In a Daily Vidette article, several cast members and crew members spoke of the great fun and joy of this musical, and how a number of them can relate to the characters with all of their quirkiness. When you do not spell your word correctly, a comfort counselor is there to escort you off of the stage with a song and a juice box. The reviewer also praised both veteran actors and the new-timers for the wonderful job in portraying this unique time in life for students of middle school age, and all that goes with this time in one’s life.
For the 2013-2014 season, Community Players’ newsletter, Curtain Calls, changed the start of its new volumes from May to July. As a result, volume 8 had seven issues instead of the usual six.