BRISTOL — Elkhart Civic Theatre will hold auditions for its production of “The 25th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee,” with music by William Finn and book by Rachel Sheinkin, at 6:30 p.m. Monday, Dec. 11, and Tuesday, Dec. 12, at the Bristol Opera House, 210 E. Vistula, Bristol.
Performances will be held Feb. 23, 24 and 25 and March 1 and 2, 2024, at the Bristol Opera House.
Auditions will consist of vocals, choreography and cold readings from the script. All materials will be taught at auditions. Auditioners should be prepared to show a variety of characters and even improv a bit. Auditioners should bring a list of all potential conflicts from Dec. 17, 2023, through March 2, 2024.
“Spelling Bee” is directed by Kristen Kinder, assisted by Amie Lambdin-Ganger, with vocal direction by Brian Scully and choreography by Jackiejo Brewers.
“The 25th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee” follows an eclectic group of six mid-pubescents as they vie for the spelling championship. While candidly disclosing hilarious and touching stories from their home lives, the tweens spell their way through a series of (potentially made-up) words, hoping never to hear the “ding” of the bell that signals a spelling mistake. Six spellers enter; one speller leaves a champion. The show has won a Tony and a Drama Desk Award for Best Book.
All tween spellers are portrayed by adults. Traditional casting allows for the doubling of actors, but additional actors can be cast at the discretion of the production team.
Elkhart Civic Theatre auditions are open to all, and no fees are charged for participation in any production.
Characters to be cast include:
- Chip Tolentio/Jesus (tenor): An athletic, social Boy Scout and champion of the 24th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee, he returns to defend his title, but he finds puberty hitting at an inopportune moment. The actor also portrays Jesus, the deity invoked by a speller in need.
- Logainne Schwartzandgrubeniere (Schwartzy) (mezzo-soprano): Logainne is the youngest and most politically aware speller, often making comments about current political figures. She is driven by internal and external pressure, but above all by a desire to win to make her two fathers proud. She is somewhat of a neat freak, speaks with a lisp and will be back next year.
- Leaf Coneybear/Carl Dad (tenor): The second runner-up in his district, Leaf gets into the competition on a lark and finds everything about the bee incredibly amusing. He is home-schooled and comes from a large family of former hippies. He has severe attention deficit disorder and spells words correctly while in a trance. This actor doubles as Carl Dad, Schwarzy’s main trainer, the more intense and competitive of Schwarzy’s fathers.
- William Barfee (tenor): A Putnam County Spelling Bee finalist last year, he was eliminated because of an allergic reaction to peanuts and is back for vindication. His famous “Magic Foot” method of spelling has boosted him to spelling glory, even though he only has one working nostril and a touchy, bullying personality. He develops a crush on Olive.
- Marcy Park (mezzo-soprano): The ultimate overachiever, Marcy has never been given another option. She comes from a family where excellence is expected and so simply produced. A parochial school student, she assumes God, too, expects perfection. She sees herself as a mass of problems but she keeps them to herself. Having moved often because of her parents’ work, she knows she can beat the local competition. Her many talents include piano, dance, martial arts, baton twirling, and/or whatever special gifts you can bring to auditions.
- Olive Ostrovsky (mezzo-soprano): A young newcomer to competitive spelling. Her mother is in an ashram in India, and her father is working late, as usual, but he is trying to come sometime during the bee. Having found comfort in its words and vastness, Olive made friends with her dictionary at a very young age, helping her to make it to the competition. She starts enormously shy, and shyly blossoms.
- Rona Lisa Peretti/Olive’s Mom (mezzo-soprano): The No. 1 real estate agent in Putnam County, a former Putnam County Spelling Bee champion herself and the returning moderator. She is a sweet woman who loves children, but she can be very stern when it comes to dealing with Vice Principal Panch and his feelings for her. Her interest in the competition is unflagging and drives it forward. The actress also portrays a fantasy version of Olive’s mom at her ashram in India. This actress should be quick on her feet and comfortable with improv.
- Douglas Panch/the vice principal (non-singing role): Frustrated with his life, he finds the drive of the young spellers alien to him. After five years’ absence from the bee, Panch returns as judge. There was an “incident” at the 20th annual bee, but he claims to be in “a better place” now, thanks to a high-fiber diet and Jungian analysis. He is infatuated with Rona Lisa Peretti, but she does not return his affections. The actor should be comfortable with improv.
- Mitch Mahoney/Dan Dad/Olive’s Dad (tenor): The official comfort counselor. An ex-convict, Mitch is performing his community service with the bee, and hands out juice boxes to losing students. He has no idea how to offer comfort but does find himself wishing he could find a way to make the kids feel better. The actor also portrays Dan Dad, the more laid back and ineffectual of Schwarzy’s fathers, and a fantasy version of Olive’s dad coming to the bee from work.