The For Mill Sun received the following review from a guest theatre critic who saw the “25th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee” at Fort Mill Community Playhouse during a dress rehearsal. The show runs through Nov. 20. Show times and ticket information at the bottom.

“I had the honor of being invited to watch the dress rehearsal of the 25th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee at Fort Mill Community Playhouse last night. I went without expectations but was instantly overwhelmed by the brilliance of this show! Right from the start and all throughout the first act you are inundated with rapid fire one liners that will have you rolling in laughter. You can’t even catch your breath before the next zinger hits.

There’s a lot happening at once and you don’t want to miss a second of it. You forget that this exemplary cast is comprised of teenagers and young adults as their comedic timing is spot on and their physical acting is on point as well. They suck you into the storyline and literally pull volunteers from the audience to participate on stage for most of the first act. You find yourself rooting for each character, including volunteers, to spell the words correctly in this 6th grade gymnasium where every child has their own unique way of competing. You get the backstory of the contestants and even a little on the volunteers and begin to realize you don’t know who you want to win it all. 

The cast of The 25th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee at Fort Mill Community Playhouse (contributed photo)

The characters, Rona and Panch, cleverly portrayed by actors Caitlin O’Hagan and Trevor May, narrate and lead the audience in and out of the hilarities of a spelling bee. The six contestants each tug at your heartstrings with their own adversities to overcome and glaring personalities that keep you in stitches. Coneybear, played by actor Issac Nicolau, was exceptionally funny in his physical comedy and was impossible not to love. Chip, portrayed by actor Aidan Tibbitt, brings a bit of adult content to the show but flawlessly delivers his blush worthy role and really makes you remember how awkward middle school can be. Megan Prangley perfectly depicted the role of Marcy – an overly accomplished Catholic school girl younger than her competition that reminds the audience the pressure kids feel at that age to be ideal. 

Throughout the musical you are blown away by the vocal talents of each cast member and though I was unable to see Ellie Dudeck in the role of Logainne Schwartzandgrubinerre, I have tickets to see the show again another weekend and look forward to hearing her perform. In her place was understudy Jess Rubino, who meticulously slipped into that role and added liberal amounts of political humor. As an additional character and not a spelling contestant was my personal favorite cast member, Lilliana Albert, who plays Mitch, a recently released criminal who is doing community service. Not only does she deliver a powerhouse vocal but her role adds a touch of perspective for the audience to think about.

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As the musical is mostly an ensemble piece it’s tough to pick lead characters but as an audience member, I gravitated toward Olive played by Molly Barbery and Will Barfee played by Trace Cassanova. Both have more in depth background stories and their roles interact with each other throughout the play. The two actors bring a lot of life to the show and are fantastic to watch! 

Last but not least, the show would not be complete without mentioning the on stage pianist, Vicki Harvell and lighting tech, Rick Diak. Vicki invisibly and audibly drives the production while without Rick’s lights the audience would not see a show. Both wildly valuable to the show as a whole. 

I think Scott Albert has once again directed a spectacular show worth every penny and all your time. The Fort Mill Community Playhouse is not a large stage but he impeccably uses every inch of the playhouse and brings together all the elements to keep you enthusiastically entertained! 

Last but not least, the show would not be complete without mentioning the on-stage pianist, Vicki Harvell and lighting tech, Rick Diak and stage manager, Madison Wilken. Vicki invisibly and audibly drives the production while without Rick’s lights the audience would not see a show and all the behind the scenes organization is due to Madison’s hard work. All are wildly valuable to the show as a whole.

I highly recommend you take the time to see the show and bring a friend. There are limited seats and most shows are already sold out so don’t wait! Make the time to see this side-splitting comedy.”

Show Information:

November 04 – November 20

Service Announcement: The show is SOLD OUT for Friday, Nov. 4, and all Sunday matinees. 

There are still available seats for Friday and Saturday shows: Nov. 6, 11, 18, & 19 at 7:30 PM.

Reserve tickets: 

www.fortmillplayhouse.org

Or Call 803-548-8102 

Rating: PG – 13 (some adult content may not be suitable for those under 13, use discretion.)

Greg "Ricky Bobby" Rickabaugh has lived in the Fort Mill and York County community since 2006. He has covered the area while a reporter for The Charlotte Observer and a freelance writer for The Fort Mill...