The spelling bee moderator said, “Your word is Act Five.”
“May I have the definition please?” The student asked.
“Act Five: the Shippensburg University student-run theater troupe,” the moderator responded.
“Can you use it in a sentence please?” The student asked in a nervous voice.
“Act Five is performing ‘The 25th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee’ on April 12–14,” the moderator said in a monotone voice.
Although Act Five is not very difficult to spell, the cast members of “The 25th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee” had to brush up on their spelling skills to perform this weekend’s production.
The musical, originally performed on Broadway in 2005, focuses on six students competing in a county wide spelling bee. The musical is set up and follows the format of a spelling bee while highlighting the main characters who each have their own backstories and quirks.
A love interest develops between two characters, which adds to the plot of intertwined stories and other mishaps that continually occur throughout the bee.
The students are not only going through the challenges and pressure to win the spelling bee, but they are also facing challenges at home and in their personal lives.
One contestant has two fathers; another is trying to figure out how to handle growing up and the changes his body is undergoing.
The production also includes some audience interaction, including some volunteers.
But, the audience should expect more than the person next to them possibly being an actor.
Despite its child-like setting, the show is very much an adult show, according to Briana Blewett, who plays Olive’s mom.
Blewett said the show has a lot of dark, raunchy humor in it. Although the show is about a spelling bee, some of the humor may not be appropriate for children.
“It’s innocent because they are kids, but it’s raunchy because of some of the things they sing about,” Blewett said.
Not all of the humor is dark, though. The show includes a lot of improvisation. There are parts of the show the cast still laughs at during rehearsals, which have been happening nearly every day since February.
Performances are scheduled for April 12 at 7 p.m., April 13 at 2 p.m. and 7 p.m. and April 14 at 7 p.m.
Opening night is Greek Night in which $1 of every ticket purchased goes to charity. Kids Day is the Saturday matinee. At Kids Day, the show is toned down and made kid-friendly. Also, kids under 15 are admitted for free. Saturday night is high school night where students can purchase a ticket for $2 with an ID. Sunday is Senior Day where senior citizens can purchase tickets for $4.
SU students can purchase tickets throughout the week in either the CUB or Reisner Dining Hall for $3 with their IDs or at the door. General admission is $5.