East Lansing High School Theatre Presents “The 25th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee”
Photo by Meaghan Gonzales.
Preparing for the upcoming East Lansing High School Theatre spring musical this year has been controversial. Initially, the scheduled program was “Dreamgirls,” but amid controversy, Director Adam Woolsey decided to choose a new Tony-award-winning musical, “The 25th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee.”
Performances of “Spelling Bee” will take place in the East Lansing High School Auditorium on Thursday, March 20 – Saturday, March 23 at 7:00 p.m., and Sunday, March 24 at 2 p.m.
Meaghan Gonzales, Assistant Parent Coordinator, said “Dreamgirls” just didn’t turn out to be a good fit this year, but cast and crew are excited for the “Spelling Bee” production.
Senior Kayleigh Rust has been involved behind the scenes of all eight productions over her high school career, mostly in charge of lighting and sets. According to Gonzales (who is Rust’s mother) students like Rust work backstage painting, building, designing, rigging, setting and testing things to ensure rehearsals and performances run smoothly.
“At the end of this performance, the kids will have dedicated more than 150 hours each to this show alone,” Gonzales said. “Multiply that by 15 kids and they have a combined total of 2250 hours dedicated to one show. When the show is over, they will dedicate even more hours to put it all away. Their one minute on stage is more than earned.”
The play focuses on six middle school students in the middle of a spelling bee competition. Freya Dufner is a member of the ensemble/chorus and in charge of props. Both Dufner and Rust agree all the characters are relatable to the students playing them – mainly because they’re students too.
“All of the characters are in very relatable situations, whether they are trying to win to please their parents or to impress other people,” Rust said. “There are many things that are relatable in this musical, the characters are all students who go through things that everyone has been through. The characters are quirky, and all have real life problems.”
No matter if a student wins or loses the competitive spelling bee, there’s a lesson for all who participate in the production, both on and off the stage. “Each character found ways to cope with their eccentricities in a positive constructive way,” Gonzales said.
Much of the production’s humor comes from bringing up four unsuspecting, actual audience members onto the stage, according to Gonzales. The interaction, paired with the flashbacks make for an entertaining show.
“We explore each character’s backgrounds in a comedic, and at times emotional way through each reminiscing throughout the spelling bee about their path to get there. The performances switch quickly from present to past and back again, so I feel the show will have no problem holding interest.”
“It is a show that will intrigue, and at times include the audience. It’s a phenomenal show that everyone should come and see,” Rust said.
Tickets for the performance are $10 and may be purchased at the door.
East Lansing High School is located at 509 Burcham Drive.
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