'êThe 25th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee'ê is a charming and funny work of musical theater, a huge New York success in 2005, and a double Tony winner. In its Seattle premiere it'ês getting a winning production in Ballard from two small local theater groups that have combined forces, Contemporary Classics and RK Productions. The 'êBee'ê is a hilarious summer night spent with six nerdy contestants, each out to be the champion speller of Putnam County.
Every one of us will recognize a piece of ourselves (if we'êre honest) in the anxious, bumbling adolescents who are vying for the crown. Among them is politically correct Loggaine Schwartzandgrubenierre, living testimony that having two daddies can produce strange kids just like any straight couple; geeky William Barfée (remember that accent over the e, it'ês important to William) with his unusual way of spelling; and Marcy Park, the over-over-overachiever from a local parochial school.
The contest'ês sergeant-at-arms is Mitch Mahoney, a juvenile delinquent who is there because he'ês fulfilling the community service component of his sentence. Organizer Rona Lisa Peretti is a local real estate agent and former champion (her still-shining life moment winning with the word 'êsyzygy'ê). And vice principal Douglas Panch, a pedantic and fragile school administrator, throws out the words.
The songs and dialogue are witty and irreverent, the tunes melodic, played by a nice three-piece band led by keyboardist Kim Dare. The young cast is very appealing, and a few, like the overbearing BarfÃ©e who is played by the rotund Robert Scherzer, are divine; speaking of which, watch for the guest appearance by the Son of God himself.
If you come early, you too can make an appearance, as each night four lucky audience volunteers compete on-stage with the pros for the Putnam County crown. With a low ticket price of $15-$20, and the promise of a bunch of yucks for the bucks, along with a few heart-tugging moments, you can'êt go wrong.
If you go: 'êThe 25th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee'ê runs through Aug. 14 at Ballard Underground, 2220 N.W. Market St. Tickets are $15-20 and available through "a href="http://www.brownpapertickets.com/event/114536" target="_blank">www.brownpapertickets.com or at the door. For more information go to www.contemporaryclassics.org.