The offbeat musical crowd-pleaser The 25th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee is the definition of good fun.
At a time when the TV audiences can’t enough of competitions where contestants get booted off, along comes this Survivor for nerds, offering a sweet, funny trip back to middle school angst. The exuberant local amateur production of the 105-minute William Finn Broadway hit spells outs all the agonies and ecstasies of a competitive bee and comes out the winner.
The six main students are a familiar showcase of adolescent awkwardness. Standouts in director Kayla Gordon’s strong cast are pure-voiced Jillian Willems as Olive, a heartbreaker of a girl who spends too much time on her own; Dorothy Carroll as the lovable, lisping do-gooder Logainne; and Nyk Bielak as the brainy, sinus-challenged know-it-all who spells with his feet.
To Bee or not to Bee, there is no question.
— Kevin Prokosh
From the official Fringe Festival guide:
In this hilarious and clever Tony Award-winning musical, six adolescent outsiders in the throes of puberty learn that winning isn't everything and that losing doesn't necessarily make you a loser. Spelling Bee is quirky, unexpected and full of grown-up g-o-o-f-i-n-e-s-s.
From the creative team that brought you the sold-out, smash-hit productions Hair and Altar Boyz.
Directed by Kayla Gordon
Warnings: Mild Language
PTE Mainstage (Venue 16), to July 25