Review of playhouse’s Putnam

“The 25th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee,” wrapping up its run out at the Erie Playhouse,  is an event that promises much laughter for everyone.

Almitra Clerkin, the play’s director who also made her Broadway debut in the same play, has done another great job in casting.

The only two “adult roles,” Vice Principal Douglas Panch (Patrick Thiem) and Ms. Rona Peretti (Diane Hardner) ask the children to spell various words  with different levels of difficulty.

The two also play the parents of Olive Ostrosky (Carrie Thomas) and sing a fabulous duet.

Opening with a flash-back when Ms. Peretti won her third annual bee, we are fast-forwarded to the 25th bee when Chip Tolentino (Domenic Delgreco) opens the stage to the group of bee contestants.

Chip also sings a song after the intermission that probably raises the rating to PG-13, when he sings of his difficulties controlling his youthful excitement.

The returning bee winner also plays the Jesus figure who comes to let Marcy Park (Kate Matuzzo) know that it is all right not to live up to expectations.

One of the funniest characters is Logainne Schwatzandgrunenierre (Christine Carmichael), the leader of the Gays and Lesbians group at her elementary school who applauds New York’s recent gay marriage law repeal, which the audience applauded as well.  Ms. Schwartzy has very strong ethical beliefs and doesn’t fold to the temptations of an unethical attempt to sabotage the “magic foot” of William Barfee.

Barfee (Pat McGuire,) an awkward scientific type who captures hearts of many from his entrance, shows his softer side with Olive finds out that he can do it.

The “magic foot” solo he performs is anything but awkward and reveals the tremendous vocal talents of the spelling bee contestant.

Olive Ostrosky (Carrie Thomas) enters the bee and is waiting for her parents to come and watch her.

The entrance fee has not been paid but she is allowed to continue as efforts are made to reach her parents.  Olive dazzles the audience with her voice and charismatic charm and eventually sees that she is going to be all right.

Marcy Park (Kate Matuzzo) speaks six languages and is the picture-perfect school girl who excels in all that she does.

The over achiever is also a sports talent and performs some very complicated tricks as she sings.  Park has an encounter with Jesus that leaves her unclouded as to her future.

Mitch Mahoney (Jassie Camacho) is doing volunteer work for the community and encourages, sometimes a bit strongly, correct behavior.

Mitch has the sad job of escorting the loosing contestants off stage.

Leaf Coneybear (Chad Gauthier) proves that comedic talents are never unclear.  The possessions he experiences when spelling are knee slapping funny. The high energy Coneybear has the audience downtrodden when he sings his solo, “I’m not that smart.” After that, Coneybear grabs your heart.

The opening show of the season gets two thumbs.

The amazing Mr. Rainbow leads the highly talented and respected musical company and makes his return to the Erie area.  Congratulations and thanks to all whom made this show possible, great job.

Check out www.erieplayhouse.org for times and more information.

ROB LOPEZ

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