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25th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee Events

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About the Show:

The 25th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee is an innovative musical comedy that, like the name suggests, tells the story of a spelling bee set in Putnam Valley Middle School. Six very different and quirky students compete for the prize as three equally idiosyncratic adults moderate the proceedings. One of the most unique aspects of the show is that audience members are invited to the stage to participate in the bee in semi-scripted sequences during which they are subject to the comic jealousy, judgment, and derision of the actors.

The 25th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee debuted at Broadway's Circle in the Square Theatre on April 15, 2005 to critical and audience acclaim. The show was nominated for six Tony Awards and won two: Best Book (Rachel Sheinkin) and Best Featured Actor (Dan Fogler, who played speller William Barfee). Celia Keenan-Bolger, who played speller Olive Ostrovsky, was also nominated. The show was massively successful and ran for over 1000 performances, closing on January 20, 2008. There have been multiple US Tours and foreign productions, and since being released for licensing, the show has been very popular with regional and community theatres. Order your 25th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee tickets right away to experience the most intense and hilarious spelling bee you have ever seen!

Plot Synopsis:

The lights come up on spelling bee host Rona Lisa Peretti, who has a flashback to the day she won the spelling bee by correctly spelling the word "syzygy." As she sets up, the spellers are introduced as they enter. Rona calls up Olive Ostrovsky, asking her if she has a parent who can pay her yet unpaid entrance fee, but she reveals she arrived alone by bus. Co-host and word-reader Douglas Panch arrives, returning from a five-year hiatus sparked by a n unknown traumatic incident. He then introduces the ironically intimidating comfort counselor, Mitch Mahoney, who is performing this function as court-ordered community service.

As the bee begins, each speller comes up and, through flashbacks, their life stories are revealed. Olive's mother is on a spiritual journey in India and her father can't attend because he is working late. Leaf Coneybear, an eccentric young boy, came third in the regional bee but was called in when the winner and runner up announced that they had to attend a Bat Mitzvah. His family doesn't think much of him, and he is more and more inclined to believe them when they call him dumb. He slips into a trance and remarkably spells "capybara," a word he didn't think he knew. William Barfee is an overweight, cocky boy who spells words out on the floor with his "magic foot" before reciting them out loud.

Boy Scout Chip Tolentino, the previous year's winner, is called up but he is very distracted by Leaf's sister, Marigold. Distracted by a pesky stirring in his body, he misspells his word and is eliminated, forced to sell baked goods for the remainder of the contest. Logainne Schwartzandgrubenierre, the youngest speller, is the daughter of two overbearing fathers, a situation which has caused her to develop neurotic tendencies and has put immense pressure on her. Marcy Park speaks six languages, plays hockey and rugby, plays classical music on multiple instruments, and only sleeps three hours per day. The consummate overachiever, she is growing sick of trying to live up to others' expectations.

Throughout the tense competition, these young spellers fall one by one as they deal with the pressure and the shocking reality of losing in their own ways. Order your 25th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee tickets today to see who wins, and, perhaps more importantly, how each unique contestant's story ends.

Run Time:

1 hour and 45 minutes with no intermission


Appropriate for young teens and older (adult references)


  • 2005 Tony Awards: 6 nominations, 2 wins
  • 2005 Drama Desk Awards: 3 nominations

Creative Team:

Music & LyricsWilliam Finn
BookRachel Sheinkin
Additional MaterialJay Reiss

25th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee News:

January 20, 2008Spelling Bee closes on Broadway, but can still be seen on tour!
April 15, 2005Spelling Bee opens at Broadway's Circle in the Square Theatre!

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