SARATOGA SPRINGS – Saratoga Children’s Theatre will be performing the Tony Award winning play “The 25th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee” from October 23 to 25 at Saratoga Music Hall.
Directed by Bob Berenis, “The 25th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee” is a sidesplitting musical comedy that follows a cast of quirky and eclectic characters as they navigate their way towards winning a spelling bee. However, each of the spellers has their own heartbreaking backstory that is told through flashbacks and dynamic songs. Audiences will enjoy the witty humor, clever musical numbers and the wide-ranging performance skills of these young actors.
The cast, made up of 17 high school students, has been rehearsing for several months and the actors are more than ready to show off their hard work.
“I’ve had a lot of fun with this show and I’ve learned a lot,” said Matthew Boyce, who plays the Mitch Mahoney, the rough-around-the-edges “comfort counselor” who is only at the bee as part of his community service. “Audiences will have a great time; everyone will think this show is hilarious. There are some jokes only adults will get. It’s been hard to keep a straight face a lot of the time during rehearsal.”
“I’m looking forward the most to the audience’s reaction of the different characters on stage. Everyone can relate to certain aspects of all the characters,” said Leigh Berenis, the Associate Executive Director of Saratoga Children’s Theater and choreographer of the play. She also notes that while there is a lot of goofy humor, many of the jokes are more for older audiences, so the show is rated PG-13.
Audience members will actually get the chance to directly participate in the play as well. Before the show, adult audience members have the opportunity to sign up if they are interested. Three random names are then chosen during the play and selected audience members get up on stage and join the cast of spellers. They act along with the cast, prompted throughout by the actors.
“The audience volunteers make each show different. It really adds to the humor of the play,” said actor Sam Miller.
While the show is very funny, it does have a darker aspect when it comes to the lives of the spellers. They tell the story of their family lives throughout, which often allude to neglect, abuse and feelings of inadequacy.
“The play shows so much of how life is,” said sophomore Jackson Cassady. “It may not be what we always want, but it shows we can still always make it work."
Performances are Friday, October 23 and Saturday, October 24 at 7 p.m., with a matinee on Sunday, October 25 at 2 p.m. Tickets are $15 for adults and $10 for guests 18 and under. All tickets will be sold at the door. Saratoga Music Hall is located at 474 Broadway in Saratoga Springs.
For more information about the play or Saratoga Children’s Theatre, visit saratogachildrenstheatre.org.