Loudoun Valley’s portrayal of The 25th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee was beautiful pandemonium! Valley’s colorful cast combined with impressive technical elements created a light-hearted yet important show which captivated audiences of all ages.
The Annual 25th Putnam County Spelling Bee is a Tony award winning musical comedy written by William Finn and brought to life on Broadway in 2006. The musical follows the stories of six quirky contestants in a middle school spelling bee and the journey they undergo both in their personal lives and in the competition. The bee’s moderator, Rona Lisa Peretti, along with the school’s unconventional Vice Principal lead the competition, bringing a sense of humor and fostering relationships with the contestants along the way. The show begins with six school middle school contestant and select audience participants; however, when all is said and done, contestant William Barfee is victorious.
The musical’s utter success would not have been possible without the undeniable stage presence and humor of the six spellers. Each speller brought a unique archetype to the stage and was able to flawlessly remain engaged and in character throughout the entirety of the show. Zach Goolsby nailed the role of Leaf Coneybear through his eccentric physicality and attention to detail. The audience will forever remember Goolsby hanging center stage from a basketball hoop, for it was truly a priceless sight like no other. Blake Carlson, too, brilliantly executed the role of William Barfee with his captivating vocal decisions and humorous stage dynamic. His ability to simultaneously tap, talk, and sing all while remaining in his quite ridiculous character is truly commendable. Lastly, Sophie Stapleton beautifully portrayed the role of Olive Otrsovsky with her impressive vocals and innocent, yet commanding, stage presence.
Valley’s show was far more than just the spellers, for the other members of the cast contributed to the musical’s comedic and sensational nature. The bee’s moderator, played by Claire Poirier, delivered impeccable vocals and created a complex character beyond that of the typical high school capability. Her dynamic with the hilarious Vice Principle Panch, played by Henry Trochlil, was impressive and beautifully maintained for the entire show. Trochlil, too, delivered a phenomenal, striking performance with entirely unique and pronounced humor. Guidance counselor Michelle Mahoney, played by Onna Thomas, contrary to her character’s dark nature, also brought life and talent to the stage with her awe inspiring vocal performance. Lastly, the parents seated in the audience, especially Bryan Ly and Cole Walker, enhanced the show’s humor and strong characterization.
The technical elements of Valley’s production, too, are worthy of applause. From the moment the show begun, the audience was struck by the show’s set and the subtle humor provided through the posters hung on the wall. Each aspect of the set and the impressive props were all indisputably intentional, bold choices which enhanced the cast’s performance. The choice to sit the audience on stage with members of the cast in the audience fostered a sense of intimacy and connection between the performers and audience like no other. The sound elements, too, elevated the show to an entirely new level. The audience was pleasantly dumbfounded by the phone alarm done by the pit orchestra because of its realistic sound and meticulous timing.
The audience, along with William Barfee, left Loudoun Valley feeling victorious and joyed as a result of the performers’ and crew’s unambiguous talent and capability to executive such an amusing, captivating show!
This review was written by Madeleine Sullivan from Heritage High School.