Local plays highlight season

The Erie Playhouse presents the story of an elementary spelling bee and all the trials and behind-the-scene issues one undergoes as a spelling bee contestant.

Director Almitra Clerkin has firsthand experience with this play. She saw it on Broadway and was an on-stage contestant during the show, making it her Broadway debut.

The musical made its own debut on Thursday, Sept. 9, and runs through Sept. 25.

The show does have one song that will deal with adult content so precautions should be taken for the little ones.

The production began as an improvisational play, performed by a low-key New York improv group.

Putnam’s original title for the play was C-R-E-P-U-S-C-U-L-E, a fancy spelling bee word for “twilight.”

In early 2005, the improv group spent several months reconstructing the play into an off-Broadway musical.

The musical did so well that in April of 2005, it made its way to Broadway and performed more than 1,000 shows.

Unfortunately, the “25th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee” came to an end in 2008.

Take some time and go see this show: “The 25th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee” will be staged Sept. 15-18 and 21-25 at the Erie Playhouse, 13 W. 10th St. Show time is 7:30 p.m., except Sundays (2 p.m.). Tickets are $21.50 and $13. For reservations, call 814-454-2582, Ext. 0.

The second half of the Clerkin entry comes from the Rev. Shawn Clerkin, husband of Alimtra.

This melodrama, written by Dion Boucicault, takes place in 1857.

The play will be the first to open the Schuster Theater 2011-12 season, which will include three other plays this year.

The first act takes place in 1837 during the commercial panic and the remainder of the play takes place in 1857 during the panic.

There is all the mixing of a soap opera and the performers are interactive, in a similar fashion to the “25th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee.”

There is death, robbery, sneaky underhanded people, and of course there is love and broken hearts mixed with noble acts for the better of all.

The Schuster Theatre presents this main stage and offers a close-up view.

Director Clerkin said “I want them to first enjoy themselves, second appreciate the melodramatic form and recognize its connection to contemporary popular entertainment and then maybe a bit of social justice at the end.”

“The Poor of New York” takes the stage on Thursday, Sept. 29-Oct. 1 at 8 p.m. and Oct. 6-8 at 8 p.m. and Sunday at 2 p.m.

Students can get in free with their Gannon I.D.

For more information call the Schuster Theatre Box Office at 814-871-7494.


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