Article Title:Review: The 25th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee
Author or Credit:Larry Jenkins
Published on:8th November 2008 - 11:48 pm
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Story ID:6721
Text:Review: The 25th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee at Sky City Theatre, Auckland. By Rachel Sheinkin and William Finn Cast includes Jackie Clarke, Eryn Wilson, Christina Cusiel, Cameron Douglas, Semu Filipo, Kristian Lavercombe, Madeleine Sami, Esther Stephens and Jason Te Patu. Directed by Murray Lynch, Musical Director Grant Winterburn. Rowdy: Madeleine Sami tackles the Spelling Bee This little bit of fluff was originally a play called "C-R-E-P-U-S-C-U-L-E" and the word does indeed appear as one of the items to be spelled by one of the contestants in the course of the rather frenetic and often rowdy spelling bee of the title. The musical was a workshop product of the Barrington Stage Company in Vermont, and it shows. It's clear that everyone was having fun inflating the rather slim and unpromising premise - using a spelling bee as a pivot - and it all got mixed up with this one's view on parental guidance, another one's ideas about the poor self-image of pre-adolescents (and some very familiar as in the case of the horny young Chip, winningly played by Cameron Douglas, whose unruly penis is his downfall); and even more here-we-go-again jibes at adults who can't let go of past glories or live down hideous embarrassment. The musical won a Tony and has its own website, which I'd suggest you visit if you plan to take in the Auckland Theatre Company's latest offering. Perhaps you can prepare yourself for the slightly screwy and definitely unusual hour-and-forty-five minutes you're about to experience in the theatre, and in fact the website is almost as entertaining as being there. There are some performances, though, that make it worth turning up.  The ever-adaptable Madeliene Sami again steals the accolades as a twelve-year-old in pigtails by the name of Ligainne Schwartzndgrubenierre, whose kind heart gets in the way of ambition.  Jackie Clarke and her magnificent voice wipe up the floor with the role of Rona, and Kristian Lavercombe is simply stunning as Leaf Coneybear and as one of the two gay dads of one of the contestants.  All of the cast are superb singers, so the songs rock, as does the choreography by Sacha Copland, and the set and costumes by John Parker and lighting by Bryan Caldwell are worthy of a Tony themselves.  Murray Lynch needed to direct his players to deliver the dialogue a little faster, as the pace seemed very slow, thus the excitement that ought to’ve  been flowing from the audience just wasn't there, even though Grant Winterburn and his fine band were working very hard. Larry Jenkins - 8th November 2008    
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