Cabrini Theater presents “The 25th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee”

By Aislinn Walsh
April 15, 2019

Cabrini Theater held eight performances of their spring musical, The 25th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee, between April 4 and April 13. The hilarious, riveting musical comedy is about contestants in an elementary school spelling bee.

This is the second run of “The 25th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee” at Cabrini. It was a huge success and crowd pleaser previously. Photo from Cabrini University Flickr.

What makes this play unique is the audience interaction factor, which means that each play is a little different from the others.

Without letting too many spoilers slip, audience members have the opportunity to join the cast or interact from their seats in the audience.

Dr. Michelle Filling Brown, English professor and acting dean of the School of Humanities and Social Sciences, notes that it provides light-hearted relief.

“We are at a place in our world right now…where you go on social media everything is just really heavy and dramatic and I think it’s good to have comedy and our students that are in the show are really good with improve and comedy,” Filling-Brown said. “And I think it’s the right show at the right time.”

Matt Santangelo, a sophomore digital communications major, believes that the wide range of characters appeals to many people.

“What makes this show special is that it has such a wide variety of characters that people are drawn to and can relate to in some way,” Santangelo said. He plays Dan Dad, a proud parent whose daughter is a participant in the spelling bee.

One of the unique aspects of the musical is the audience engagements. Members of the crowd are invited to come up on stage. Photo from Cabrini University Flickr.

Previously, “The 25th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee,” had a run at Cabrini years ago and was a huge success. In fact, the current director, alumna Kaitlin Glenn, was a participant in the musical as a freshman. It was a nolgostic when Glenn and Dr. Filling Brown chose it as the spring 2019 musical.

At the time, Glenn was pregnant and was due during the spring semester. Dr. Michelle Filling Brown had choreographed the play before and would be able to take over and help out with rehearsals while Glenn was out.

“I know the show inside and out, that I could just jump in and kind of pick up just because we had done it here before,” Filling-Brown said.  Filling-Brown has been part of the Cabrini Theater program for the last 11 years.

For the seniors, “The 25th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee” wad of particular significance because it was their last theatrical performance before graduation. Both of the cast and crew members have found a second family in the Theater program.

Johnny Myers, senior English and writing major, notes the other seniors have grown particularly close to each other over the last four years.

“The rest of the seniors and I have become the closest of friends; at this point, we’re more like siblings. We’ve all done the show since we were freshmen, so it’s bittersweet to be leaving,” Myers said. “We were also Kait Glenn’s…first freshman class in the theater, so she has watched us grow over our time in the theater. Needless to say, we are all super emotional. The theater means everything to all of us, which is why we stuck with it through all four years.”

For seniors, the musical is a bittersweet closing to their time at Cabrini Theater. Photo from Cabrini University Flickr.

Myers plays William Barfeé, a nerd who is bullied in school, yet puts on a tough exterior. According to Myers, Barfeé “ends up okay.”

Auditions for the “The 25th annual Putnam County spelling bee” were held in December and rehearsals subsequently began in January. Although the specific schedule varies every week however, there is a significant time commitment for members of the cast and crew. Santangelo, notes that all of the hours spend rehearsing is worth it on opening night when they see all of their hard work come to fruition.


Aislinn Walsh

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