Review: 'The 25th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee' at Act Two Theatre
I have never been to the Act Two Theatre, but like many regional shows I have attended the atmosphere was warm and welcoming. The building was easy to find as it is attached to the city hall. They had friendly staff everywhere to lead the new comers like myself in the right direction. I am happy to say that they are hosting a Deaf Night at the Theatre on February 20th with interpreters for the show and volunteer signers around the theatre for any needs! It should be a fun filled night for everyone with access for all! Check out acttwotheatre.com for details on this event and other shows for this season.
Now on to the bee! I found this production is funny and fresh, and enjoyed the audience participation. The last minute spellers were all wonderful sports and had a blast onstage. Much of the choreography (Rachel Lampert) was designed so the actors could interact with the audience, sometimes very personally (looking at you two “Chip” and “Marigold”). This is one of those shows where you need to keep your eyes peeled all over the house. The action is fast paced and fills the room, flowing off the stage and into the seats, adding to the excitement. The set was filled the stage and was fully used. I caught myself watching for all the moving parts as the actors played other characters in flashbacks.
The harmonies from this cast were stunning in the opening number and in “The I Love You Song”. Ryan Wood and Theresa Hermann added to “Olive’s” beautiful voice. Nathan Robert Hinds (William Barfee) kept my attention with just a facial move and a simple “I know.” Kurtis Heinrich (Leaf Coneybear) hit the jokes without going overboard and had the best exit I have seen in a while. Lindsay Gingrich (Olive Ostrovsky) was sweet, with an air of confidence that matured her character in a believable way. Michael Barrows-Fitzgerald (Vice Principal Panch) and Grace Langford (Marcy Park) had amazing delivery on some favorite lines of the show.
Alex Dyer (Logainne Shwartzandgrubenierre) had the perfect mix of humor and sadness to show her characters layers.
There were some technical issues with microphone feedback and a light cue. They were small and handled quickly by this wonderful group. Live theatre people! It is almost like magic seeing this well-rehearsed crew trouble shoot on the fly. Working with the unknown is where theatre people thrive and the Act Two theatre did an amazing job with this charming and hilarious show. Bravo to the whole cast and crew.