June 18 – June 30: THE 25TH ANNUAL PUTNAM COUNTY SPELLING BEE. Check out the reviews!
From Encore Michigan:
The cast, filled with Barn company favorites along with some of their new apprentices, has fun with the show and invites the audience to laugh along, and even participate.
The musical takes place in a gym, one painted bright yellows and blues in a set designed by Steven Lee Burright. It has all the feel of a secondary school gym from somewhere in middle America. And it is populated by the spelling bee students who could at best be considered misfits in any other world.
Throughout the show as they compete to see who will win the Bee, they reveal the pressures of their lives and what makes them turn to spelling to escape their situations. The show is designed for adults to play the roles of the elementary and junior-high students who are trying to win the trophy and the trip to the national spelling bee in Washington D.C.
From Revue West Michigan:
Having the ability to look back on adolescence — because somehow we survived it — can be a tremendous joy, though one we may avoid to save us from reliving utterly cringe-worthy moments we’d prefer to forget.
However, “The 25th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee” — the delightful Tony Award-winning musical currently in production at The Barn Theatre — is an unavoidable joy, pure and simple, because it dives into the cringe-worthy moments of adolescence through an adorable motley crew of characters so committed to the high stakes of their county spelling bee the audience gets sucked into the drama as if it were their own.
And for some of them it is. In addition to the six characters in the show participating in the spelling bee, four members of the audience are called onto the stage and legitimately compete — to unexpected and riotous effect.
It’s this special alchemy, of drawing in the audience both literally and figuratively, that makes the experience of seeing this show practically unlike any other. Though I attend shows for the purpose of figuring out how and why they’re working, I completely lost myself in this one, practically forgetting I was watching a staged production of a spelling bee and not a spelling bee itself — as well as adult actors playing children and not (wildly talented) children themselves.