25th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee spells S-U-C-C-E-S-S


Courtesy of Benita Kutsche

Freshman Makeyah Guy, senior Kat Shambaugh, sophomore Hope Kutsche, freshman Deandre Mallory, and senior Almendra Fuentes perform in The 25th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee.

Kat Shambaugh, Copy editor

Finishing off the official drama season, NC Standing Ovation performed their spring musical, The 25th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee, in the black box theater on April 27, 28, and 29.

The musical follows the titular spelling bee and the fifth and sixth graders competing: Chip Tolentino (senior Jacob Jones), last year’s winner; Logainne Schwartzandgrubenierre (senior Kat Shambaugh), the youngest contestant; William Barfee (freshman Deandre Mallory), who spells using his “magic foot;” Leaf Coneybear (junior Jordan Hicks, later played by sophomore Hope Kutsche), who finds spelling entrancing; Marcy Park (freshman Makeyah Guy), the uptight genius; and Olive Ostrovsky (senior Allie Fuentes), the shy new girl. Rona Lisa Peretti (sophomore Chloe Vernex-loset) and Douglas Panch (senior Jordan Warren) emcee the bee, with released convict Mitch Mahoney (senior Trenton Johnson) serving as the “comfort counselor.” Each night, the cast pulled up two audience volunteers to spell as well.

Leda Catak
AP Comparative Government and AP Art History teacher Carolyn Galloway takes the stage as an audience volunteer for NC Standing Ovation’s production of The 25th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee. She took on the challenge of spelling complicated words and danced with the performers.

Mixing acting, singing, and dancing, the yearly musical requires the largest variance of talent for the season. Under the direction of drama teacher Candice Corcoran and chorus teacher Holly Botella, students needed to master all three art forms to put on the Broadway length show.

“It’s not easy having the majority of the cast not be in chorus at all,” Botella said. “So for the actors to be able to sing the way they sing, with most of them having a featured solo, is incredible. They work really hard and it’s challenging for them to get to that level, but by opening night, I was blown away by the performances.”

The musical served as the acting debut for Guy, Mallory, Vernex-loset, and Johnson. All four auditioned for the show in February, earning lead roles — a major feat for new drama students.

“I’m glad I was able to come into this program and connect with all of the other actors, because getting to know everyone and being comfortable around them is the hardest part. When the show is over and we all know we did a good job, it makes it all worth it,” Johnson said.

Due to Guy’s sickness on the opening show on April 27, Kutsche, as one of the show’s understudies, performed the part. Guy improved in health and performed on Friday and Saturday, but Hicks suffered a neck injury that morning, making him unable to perform for the rest of the shows. Kutsche took on his part for Friday and Saturday. Hicks is currently recovering.

“Usually we don’t have understudies that go on stage so I didn’t really get a chance to rehearse any of the parts that I’ve been learning which is a little bit stressful, but it’s a lot of fun because then it’s not just an illusion of the first time performing the show, it is the first time. It’s more magic and energy between me and the audience,” Kutsche said.

The technical crew for the show faced the task of putting on a full musical in the black box, due to construction on the theater. Each tech member worked to create planks of wood painted to look like a gym floor to transform the theater into a gym, and seniors Aladdin Ysman and Jabril Williams constructed a set of bleachers. Costumer Emma Hord and makeup artist Leila Farmer took on the task of making each character look like a fifth grader, incorporating pastel colors and interesting costume pieces to reflect each character’s traits.

“Painting all thirty of those eight feet by four feet boards in the time span that we had, and managing it all, was more challenging than any other show I’ve done before, but doing the makeup was really fun,” Farmer said.

Standing Ovation will put on one last performance, a showcase of acting and singing, at the end of May.