Logainne Schwartzandgrubenniere (Kristina Paulick), William Barfee (Nomi Saxton), Chip Tolentino (Zebadiah Bodine) and Leaf Coneybear (Felix Thillet) covet a trophy held aloft by Rona Liza Perretti (Jess Skiba) during rehearsals for “The 25th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee” Tuesday, Sept. 3, 2019. (Ben Hohenstatt | Capital City Weekly)

Logainne Schwartzandgrubenniere (Kristina Paulick), William Barfee (Nomi Saxton), Chip Tolentino (Zebadiah Bodine) and Leaf Coneybear (Felix Thillet) covet a trophy held aloft by Rona Liza Perretti (Jess Skiba) during rehearsals for “The 25th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee” Tuesday, Sept. 3, 2019. (Ben Hohenstatt | Capital City Weekly)

Musical comedy will ‘bee’ opening soon

Get ready for l-a-u-g-h-s with a lot of h-e-a-r-t.

Get ready for l-a-u-g-h-s with a lot of h-e-a-r-t.

“The 25th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee,” an irreverent musical comedy about precocious, middle-school spellers, is Juneau Ghost Light Theatre’s fall production.

“It’s hilarious,” said Salissa Thole, who plays Marcy Park in the show. “I listen to the music when I’m rehearsing at home, and both my children love it.”

However, she quickly added there’s some material in the show that might not be suitable for young children.

While most of the characters in “Putnam County Spelling Bee” are kids, those involved in the production said it’s probably best suited for audience members over the age of 13.

[You don’t see books like these every day]

The mature content goes along with child characters who have busy inner lives and adolescent anxieties.

Chip Tolentino (Zebadiah Bodine) and Logainne Schwartzandgrubenniere (Kristina Paulick) react to a indisposed William Barfee (Nomi Saxton) during rehearsals for “The 25th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee” Tuesday, Sept. 3, 2019. (Ben Hohenstatt | Capital City Weekly)

Chip Tolentino (Zebadiah Bodine) and Logainne Schwartzandgrubenniere (Kristina Paulick) react to a indisposed William Barfee (Nomi Saxton) during rehearsals for “The 25th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee” Tuesday, Sept. 3, 2019. (Ben Hohenstatt | Capital City Weekly)

Richard Carter, stage manager for the show, said while most of characters in “The 25th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee” are young, they aren’t overly simplified or dumbed down.

“At times it challenges serious things,” Ashleigh Watt, who plays Olive Ostrovsky in the show, said.

Watt said it’s much more fun to play a 12-year-old when you’re not actually 12 years old, and that difference in perspective informs the performances.

“I think it’s kind of fun as an adult to play a kid because kids aren’t as guarded,” she said.

The young spellers and a couple of adults will be portrayed by a stable of local talent that will be familiar to fans of local theater, arts and music.

Logainne Schwartzandgrubenniere (Kristina Paulick) and Leaf Coneybear (Felix Thillet) snap their fingers at Rona Liza Perretti (Jess Skiba) and Vice Principal Panch (Joshua Midgett) during rehearsals for “The 25th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee” Tuesday, Sept. 3, 2019. (Ben Hohenstatt | Capital City Weekly)

Logainne Schwartzandgrubenniere (Kristina Paulick) and Leaf Coneybear (Felix Thillet) snap their fingers at Rona Liza Perretti (Jess Skiba) and Vice Principal Panch (Joshua Midgett) during rehearsals for “The 25th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee” Tuesday, Sept. 3, 2019. (Ben Hohenstatt | Capital City Weekly)

“Those who have seen the show before might have seen professional actors and musicians, while this show is a mix of both,” said Juneau Ghost Light Theatre Board President Heather LaVerne in an email. “We have performers of all experience levels giving it their all. Our cast is extremely talented.”

Joining Thole and Watt are Zebadiah Bodine, Kristina Paulick, Felix Thillet, Nomi Saxton, Jess Skiba, Joshua Midgett and Jocelyn Miles.

[Visiting artists get Juneau crowd singing, dancing and snorting like walruses]

Every performance will offer opportunities for participation from four audience members and allow the cast some room to improvise.

“Every show is going to be different,” Paulick said.

Leaf Coneybear (Felix Thillet) strikes a spelling pose during rehearsals for “The 25th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee” Tuesday, Sept. 3, 2019. (Ben Hohenstatt | Capital City Weekly)

Leaf Coneybear (Felix Thillet) strikes a spelling pose during rehearsals for “The 25th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee” Tuesday, Sept. 3, 2019. (Ben Hohenstatt | Capital City Weekly)

“Putnam County Spelling Bee” will also boast live music courtesy of several Juneau musicians, including Grace Lee, Jack Scholz, Lisa Ray, Makenna Lovejoy, Margie McWilliams.

Midgett compared those making the show happen to a classic, domed children’s toy that’s pushed like a vacuum cleaner.

“It’s like someone took a bunch of Juneau’s talent and put it in a Push and Pop, and is pushing it across stage for 90 minutes,” Midgett said.

Know & Go

What: “The 25th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee”

When: Sept. 6 and 7, and Sept. 12-15. Sept. 7 will have both a 2:30 p.m. matinee at 7:30 p.m. show. Sept. 15 will only have a 2:30 p.m. matinee. All other shows are at 7:30 p.m.

Where: Juneau Arts & Culture Center, 350 Whittier St.

Admission: Tickets are $25 for general admission and $20 for students and seniors. They can be purchased on the JAHC’s website, at Hearthside, or at the door. Sept. 12 is a pay-as-you-can performance.


• Contact reporter Ben Hohenstatt at (907)523-2243 or bhohenstatt@juneauempire.com. Follow him on Twitter at @BenHohenstatt.


More in News

In this April 6 photo, bartender Denis Angelov pours drinks at Tin Pan Alley restaurant in Provincetown, Mass. A study of a large coronavirus outbreak in Provincetown suggests the amount of virus in fully vaccinated people was as great as the viral load in unvaccinated people. Health officials released the study Friday, July 30, 2021, saying it explains their call this week for vaccinated people return to wearing masks indoors in parts of the U.S. where the delta variant of the coronavirus is fueling infection surges. The study focused on an outbreak this month in Provincetown, a seaside tourist spot located in the Massachusetts county with the state's highest vaccination rate. (AP Photo/Steven Senne)
Study: Vaccinated people can carry as much virus as others

Health officials on Friday released details of that research.

It's a police car until you look closely. The eye shies away, the . (Juneau Empire File / Michael Penn)
Police calls for Friday, July 30, 2021

This report contains public information from law enforcement and public safety agencies.

The Juneau Police Department is asking for community assistance as they search for suspects involved in a June break-in at Glacier Gardens. (Michael Penn / Juneau Empire file)
Police seek info on Glacier Gardens break-in

The break-in resulted in thousands of dollars of damage.

This undated electron microscope image made available by the U.S. National Institutes of Health in February 2020 shows the Novel Coronavirus SARS-CoV-2, yellow, emerging from the surface of cells, blue/pink, cultured in the lab. Also known as 2019-nCoV, the virus causes COVID-19. THE CANADIAN PRESS/AP, NIAID-RML
COVID at a glance for Thursday, July 29

The most recent state a local figures

Courtesy Image / Sealaska Heritage Institute 
Rico Lanáat’ Worl’s “Raven Story Forever” design is shown. There will be a release ceremony for the stamp on Friday.
Release ceremony planned for Raven stamp

Public is invited, but it will also be livestreamed.

It's a police car until you look closely and see the details don't quite match. (Juneau Empire File / Michael Penn)
Police calls for Thursday, July 29, 2021

This report contains public information from law enforcement and public safety agencies.

Shoppers wear masks inside of The Cool store in the Fairfax district of Los Angeles. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reversed course Tuesday, July 27, 2021, on some masking guidelines, recommending that even vaccinated people return to wearing masks indoors in parts of the U.S. where the coronavirus is surging. City and Borough of Juneau officials are considering extending local mitigation measures that advise residents to wear masks when in indoor public spaces. (AP Photo/ Marcio Jose Sanchez)
City assembly to revisit mitigation measures

A special meeting is set for Wednesday evening

It's a police car until you look closely and see the details don't quite match. (Juneau Empire File / Michael Penn)
Police calls for Wednesday, July 28, 2021

This report contains public information from law enforcement and public safety agencies.

Michael S. Lockett / Juneau Empire
Officials, artists and key Southeast Alaska figures alongside U.S. Postal Service leadership unveil the Raven Story stamp as part of the official release ceremony in front of the Sealaska Heritage Institute’s Walter Soboleff Building on Friday, July 30, 2021.
Northwest Coast to post: Stamp featuring Raven, designed by Tlingit artist gets release

It marks the first time a Tlingit design has been featured on a stamp, according to SHI.

Most Read