"25th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee" Launches 2012-2013 Season at OPRF

Six performances of Tony Award-winning play to be in Little Theater.

Even if you can't spell this is one bee that everyone can enjoy.

"The 25th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee" will be on the card starting next weekend as part of the theater season at Oak Park and River Forest High School, 201 N. Scoville Ave.

Performances will be 7:30 p.m. on Oct. 19, 20 and 27; 3 p.m. on Oct. 21 and 28 and 4 p.m. on Oct. 25 in the school’s Little Theater. Tickets are $8 for adults and $6 for students (bring your IDs) and seniors and are available on the school's website, through the web store and at the box office on the day of the show.

“Putnam County” is a one-act musical, depicting a regional spelling bee. But that’s not all. Six junior high school students –overseen by some pretty childish adults - learn some hard lessons about life along the way. This production is the real deal, the version that would be seen in theaters – and it comes with a PG-13 rating.

“Putnam” is going to be a small-cast production, meaning that the play doesn’t have the big lighting and sets and numbers of actors that, for example, “Les Miserables” will have when it hits OPRF later in the school year. In larger productions, professionals are brought in as music director and choreographer.

This production, though, has a smaller cast and is, except for the director theater teacher Michelle Bayer, student driven. Twenty-two students – freshmen through seniors – are part of the cast. The music director and choreographer are seniors Scott Daniel and Marian Woznica.

This type of production will give Daniel and Woznica good hands-on experience in doing theater plus teaching and working with students all the way through the production, Bayer said.

It’s not the first small-cast production. A number of years ago, the school put on “Godspell,” and it sold out.  It did so well and students had such a good experience with it in fact, Bayer said, that the theater department decided to include a small-cast musical every four years.

Rehearsals for this production began shortly after the start of the school year.

The play itself is very scripted, but not what happens before the curtain goes up. “Putnam” is an audience participation show and four different guest spellers will be brought up on stage in an unrehearsed spelling bee prior to each show. Expected to make appearances are: District 200 Supt. Daniel Isoye, OPRF principal Nate Rouse, football coach John Hoerster and drill team coach Katie DePasquale.

“Some of the teachers will be involved, too,” said Bayer, who also teaches biology at OPRF. “No two days are exactly alike.

"The characters in this play are ones that high school kids can play and relate to. It’s going to be a blast.”

For the entire schedule of productions for the 2012-2013 school year at OPRF, take a look at the PDF.


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