The 25th Annual Putnam Spelling Bee: Fun for the Whole Family


By Nicole Zelazko, Arts & Entertainment Editor

The Niles West Theatre Department will be hosting the “25th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee” this upcoming weekend. The first show will be the community performance this Thursday at 10 AM, and regular showings are scheduled for Friday at 4:00 and 7:30 PM and Saturday at 7:30 PM. Tickets will be $5 for theatre students, $7 for regular students, and $10 for others.

The show is centered in Putnam Valley Middle School, where the annual Spelling Bee is being held. Six quirky youngsters compete in the competition, which is run by three equally-quirky adults. The audience learns the background of the characters throughout the show as the competition furthers. Unlike other shows, the audience is able to participate- four audience members will quite literally be pulled up on stage to participate in the Bee.

Senior Sean Collins plays Douglas Panch, the junior-high vice principal who has been recruited to read off the words to the students in the Bee. Panch’s life is fairly disappointing, and he finds many of the kids strange. Collins has had a great experience learning and playing this role, and he feels as if it is vital to the performance of the show.

“This play is a comedy, so there’s a lot of ‘larger than life’ people that are just as enjoyable to watch,” Collins said. “There really are multiple ‘fun-for-the-whole-family’ aspects of the show. The whole idea of pulling up audience members and volunteers is so much fun.”

Senior Sarah Zasso feels as if pulling up audience members is very fun, yet adds a sense of risk to the show. No two nights are bound to be the same. Zasso plays Olive Ostrovsky, a lonely outcast who finds comfort in her dictionary. She loves playing the role of Olive, specially because her traits are contradictory: she loves people, but is shy, and she’s optimistic, yet very sad.

“The rehearsal process was one of my favorite thing I’ve done here during my time at West. The hours we put it didn’t even seem like work,” Zasso said. “Because we’re so close as friends, we’re comfortable enough to push each other to get to the best performance possible.”

Senior and costume-head Caroline Ryan has a similar outlook on the show. Ryan has been a part of the Theatre Department throughout all of high school, and she is confident that this show will be a success.

“Working alongside actors that are always smiling and laughing is one of the best feelings. Because this show is a comedy, the rehearsal process seems to be a bit different,” Ryan said. “In the midst of stress, everyone finds a way to have fun with their roles. It’s so exciting.”

Make sure to come out and laugh along with the cast this weekend during showtime.