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‘Spelling Bee’ musical opens this weekend

WOODBURY — Chances are, everyone in the audience at "The 25th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee" will have the same thought: Thank the Lord it's not me up there.

It's easy to see why the musical comedy, with music and lyrics by William Finn and book by Rachel Sheinkin, has remained a favorite since it opened on Broadway in 2005. Who couldn't relate to the agony of six middle-school misfits trapped together onstage, each in various degrees of desperate dorkiness, trying to overcome stage fright they compete for that spelling trophy?

The spotlight above them recalls the glare of a police interrogation room. The microphone looms before them like the gallows as they each come forward, clear their throat and spell onomatopoeia or stichomythia.

Think those words are hard to spell? Try spelling and singing them at the same time.

The Woodbury Community Theatre production continues April 20 at the Merrill Community Arts Center at East Ridge High School and features such songs as "My Friend the Dictionary," "I"m

Not That Smart" and "Woe Is Me." For this performance, the Black Box Theatre will be reconfigured in the round.

The cast includes Quinn Forrest Masterson, Ben Habegger, Nick Ohren, Natalia Romero Emily Anderson, Emma Larson, Matt Downs and Nick Elias and Keri Hommez.

Masterson, of Hastings, is making his Woodbury Community Theatre debut as William Barfee, a shy kid whose name is hilariously mispronounced by the proctor throughout the show.

"I think the cool thing about it is the fact that we're a bunch of adults portraying young kids" said Masterson, who did the show when he was in college. "Looking at if from the lens of being an older person, you still can identify with one of the characters, whether it's one of the adults or one of the kids."

A word of caution - the show is rated P-G 13.

"It's not a children's show," Masterson said. "Even though we're portraying kids, there's adult themes that are touched on."

If you go:

The 25th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee runs 7 p.m. April 20-21 and 27-28 and 3 p.m. April 15, 22 and 29. All performances are at the Black Box Theatre at East Ridge High School. Admission is $20 adults, $18 seniors 65 and over and $15 children and students. The show is free for active duty military and their families. For more information, visit or call 612-399-6568

William Loeffler

William Loeffler is a playwright and journalist from Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. He worked 15 years writing features for the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review. He has also written travel stories based on his trips to all seven continents. He and his wife, Michelle, ran the Boston Marathon in 2009. 

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