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April 27, 2010 > 'Spelling Bee' creates a b-u-z-z

'Spelling Bee' creates a b-u-z-z

By Rajiv Samagond

American High School's (AHS) spring musical, "The 25th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee," follows the story of six contestants as they work their way through the county spelling bee. It is an entertaining musical that uses energetic song and dance styles to tell a funny story about a local spelling competition. This amazing performance was originally performed on Broadway, and is based on Rachel Sheinkin's book.

The opening number, "The 25th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee," welcomes viewers into their small competition. As the play progresses, the audience gets a chance to explore each of the unique and interesting characters. There's young Logainne Schwartzandgrubnierre (Emilie Williams and Katy Patterson), with her two gay dads encouraging her, and Marcy Park (Sharon Shao), who's all business, and soon-to-be the youngest freshman in the history of her high school.

Leaf Conneybear's (Manuel Barrera) self-made clothes added flair to his exuberant personality. Olive Ostovsky (Devon Simpson and Kamille Parungao) realized that if she switched the first two vowels of her name, it produced "I love," while Chip Tolentino (Jonathan Barouch) couldn't seem to control his hormones. Meanwhile William Barfee (Alexander Prucha) tried to convince the judges his name was pronounced bar-fay, with little success. All these characters come together to deliver a brilliantly performed play, all under the direction of drama teacher, Troy River.

Shefali Despande, as Rona Lisa Peretti, and Jeremy Griffith, as Vice Principal Douglas Panch, do an excellent job of conducting the Bee, and they gave very distinctive examples of different ways the words could be used in sentences. They added their own personal style to the musical. Manuel Barrera played Leaf Conneybear very well, giving life to all of the character's eccentricities.

Richard Wong helped shape the vocalists to produce outstanding numbers, ably supported by the AHS student orchestra. Director Troy River, helped emphasize the overall message of the play: "Through the filter of these young spellers' bravado, angst, yearning, and vulnerability, we are given the chance to remember the pain of growing up with those crippling insecurities that can only be overcome by focusing our energies on some special talent that sets us apart."

The musical is about 2 hours long, with a 15 minute intermission.

For more information or to order tickets call (510) 796-1776 ext. 57702.

The 25th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee
April 29, 30, May 1, 7, 8
7 p.m.
American High School Theater 70
36300 Fremont Blvd., Fremont
(510) 796-1776 ext. 57702

$12/General, $10/Students and Seniors

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