The Placer Performance Calendar


Great Local Shows - Theatrical Reviews

Title The 25th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee
Organization Sierra College
Date(s) of show October 25 - November 3, 2013
Reviewer Dick Frantzreb
Review As I write this, there are only 3 more performances of Sierra College’s production of The 25th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee, and believe me, it would be a shame if you missed this show. In case you haven’t seen it before, the plot simply revolves around 6 quirky 12-year-old kids participating in a spelling bee. But within that loose framework there is a lot of room for talented actors and singers to create something truly entertaining.

This is a musical, with an excellent 5-piece band (plus conductor) in the pit, and there are 23 or 24 songs in the show. Although none of them have memorable melodies (to me, at least), they were certainly entertaining, and many included creative, fun choreography. In the number called “Pandemonium,” for example, there was literal pandemonium on the stage, and it was nothing short of hilarious. There were also numbers that gave each of the 9 principal actors solo parts, and at those times, I heard many big, listenable voices.

But the acting is what makes this show work, and last night it worked beautifully. The characterizations were each very different, and these young people (far from 12-year-olds, of course) were simply possessed by their characters, ad libbing throughout and keeping the audience laughing throughout the show. Then there was the constant stream of one-liners from the hostess of the spelling bee (giving background on each contestant), and the judge (giving definitions of words and using them in sentences). This show is loaded with comedy potential, and the Sierra College Drama Dept. (and Director and Department Chair, Debra Hammond) exploited that potential to the utmost. So use your DVR to record that TV show that’s so important to you, and come see live theater that is truly outstanding.

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