The 25th Annual Putman County Spelling Bee

William Finn

Mad Hatter Productions

Paradise in Augustines

From 20 August 2013 to 26 August 2013

Rating: *****

Review by Robin Strapp

The 25th Annual Putman County Spelling Bee is a delightful musical that follows the hopes of six young contestants as they strive to win the spelling bee competition in Putman County. They are augmented by three brave volunteer spellers from the audience who perfectly entered into the spirit of the evening with much comic effect.

This is simply an outstanding performance from Mad Hatter Productions. The highly talented cast relished their roles and you fully believed their characters as they battle out their spelling prowess.

In fact everyone in this production from the geeky William Barfee (Wade Ablitt), who has a unique way of spelling using his foot, to speech-impaired Logaine (Laura Wyatt) or boy scout Chip (Richard Bland) or Leaf (Barney Fritz), who has only managed to get to the competition because the winners had to attend a Bat Mitzvah, are excellent.

Recently transferred from Virginia, Marcy Park (Laura Le Blanc) speaks six languages but is not allowed to cry. Olive Ostrovsky (Hannah Shayle-Kennedy) demands your sympathy as her mother is in India and her father is going to be late as usual.

Controlling the procedures are Rona (Carrie Lewis), a former champion speller, and Vice Principal Panch (Scott Sophos), who, after five years of absence, is now “in a better place” following his incident.

Finally there is Mitch Mahoney (Olly Medlicott), the official comfort counsellor who is doing his community service with the Bee and wears a bee costume and hands out juice boxes to the losing contestants.

With a slick, funny script and an excellent off-stage band, the whole production oozes professionalism and skill. It is beautifully sung with strong, convincing acting and is highly recommended.