SPELLING BEES CAN BE TONS OF FUN

BONNIE GOLDBERG

If Noah Webster’s Unabridged Oxford English Dictionary is your friend, then you’ll be ready and willing to empathize with the contestants who have made it to the final round of “The 25th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee.”  Help cheer them on and calm their jitters as they use whatever means legally possible to walk away with the $200 Savings Bond and the foot high trophy.

The Downtown Cabaret Theatre of Bridgeport will be holding spelling contests weekends until Sunday, June 27 of this lively and highly entertaining musical comedy conceived by Rebecca Feldman, with book by Rachel Sheinkin and music and lyrics by William Finn.

Meet the six finalists, plus a  few brave volunteers from the audience, who are trying their best to spell words of increasing difficulty, with definitions, country of origin and use in a sentence to guide them.  The bee is led by vice-principal Panch (Richard Rowan) and his able assistant Rona (Maria Vee), with the aid of Mitch Mohoney (DarRon Lamar Williams) who is the comforter of contestant losers as his community service obligation.

These over-achieving adolescents include Olive (Julie Benko) whose mom is at an ashram in India and her dad is busy at work, Logainne (Lauren Ford) whose two dads are cheering her on in this endeavor and as head of the Gay/Straight Alliance, Chip (Kenneth Francoeur) who has issues of the heart and various other body parts to contend with in his Boy Scout persona, Barfee (Andrew Henrick) who needs his inhaler, has to avoid peanuts and employs a magic foot to help him compete, Leaf (Kevin William Reed) with his Superman cape and kooky family still has time to make his own clothes and Marcy (Kiyo Takami) who twirls a baton and knows six languages.

This thoroughly delightful show is directed by Tobi Silver, with musical direction by Stan Wietrzychowski.

For tickets ($39.50, $19 seniors and students Friday and Sunday),

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