The Frederick Gunn School Theatre Program will present The 25th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee, February 24-26 at 7 p.m. in the Tisch Family Auditorium of the Thomas S. Perakos Arts and Community Center. The February 24 and 25 shows are open to students and faculty only. Parents and the community are invited to attend one night only on February 26. Admission is free. No registration is required. In accordance with the school’s Visitor Policy, all theatre patrons are required to be fully vaccinated and will be required to wear a mask indoors.
“Winner of the Tony and the Drama Desk Awards for Best Book, The 25th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee has charmed audiences across the country with its effortless wit and humor,” according to Music Theatre International (MTI). “Featuring a fast-paced, wildly funny and touching book by Rachel Sheinkin and a truly fresh and vibrant score by William Finn, this bee is one unforgettable experience.”
“An eclectic group of six mid-pubescents vie for the spelling championship of a lifetime. While candidly disclosing hilarious and touching stories from their home lives, the tweens spell their way through a series of (potentially made-up) words, hoping never to hear the soul-crushing, pout-inducing, life un-affirming ‘ding’ of the bell that signals a spelling mistake. Six spellers enter; one speller leaves! At least the losers get a juice box,” MTI said.
The cast includes: Sierra Cortes ’23, Joe Shaker '24, Liam Koval ’22, Sofia Panzer ’25, Alder Curry ’22, Colin Hall ’24, Stella Zhu ’25, Audrey Richards ’23, Siena Taylor ’23, Nina Lamb ’24, Serdar Kaltalioglu ’22, and Eddie Rayhill ’22.
The ensemble cast includes: Henry Abbate ’25, Molly Du ’24, Jack Liu ’25, Mabel Rude ’25, Nina Lamb ’24 and Taylor Sall ’25. The stage crew includes: Logan Bell ’25, Bunny Borzilleri ’24, Mairin Hoffman ’25, Thea Howe ’23, Katherine Johnson ’25, Serdar Kaltalioglu ’22, Joshua Ly ’23, Emily Nussbaumer ’22, and Kate O’Farrell ’22.
The musical is directed by Kent Burnham, the Director of Theatre Arts at FGS. He is also the director of the fall play and spring play and in November 2021, he directed the FGS production and Connecticut premiere of The Miraculous Journey of Edward Tulane. A director, actor, educator, theatre-maker, and activist, Kent has directed, acted, and taught at various regional theatres, universities, and colleges throughout the country. He has appeared on TV and in film. A native of Maine, Kent holds a bachelor's degree in Theatre from Hofstra University and an MFA in Classical Acting from George Washington University/The Shakespeare Theatre in Washington, D.C. Prior to his position at FGS, he was the Chair of the Arts and Director of Theatre Arts at the Trinity-Pawling School, and was an adjunct theatre professor in Arizona and New York. From 2015‒2017, he was the Associate Artistic Director and Director of Education for Southwest Shakespeare Company in Arizona.