“Spelling Bee,” success

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By Rachel George, Entertainment Editor

The 25th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee” opened Friday, Feb. 18, at the Omaha Community Playhouse with few empty seats in the house.

It’s a quirky musical that chronicles the outrageous tale of six elementary school misfits competing for the county finals spelling bee championship.

At the beginning of each performance, four audience members are randomly selected to participate in the spelling bee, which adds a bit of variety each night.

Each character is certainly unique. Chip Tolentino (Tim Abou-Nasr) is a dedicated boy scout who pops a boner while fantasizing about fellow speller Leaf Coneybear’s sister, causing him to lose his focus as well as his shot at spelling bee champ.

Leaf Coneybear (Dan Chevalier) makes his own clothes, and rocks a helmet and a cape. His solo, “I’m Not That Smart,” should hint at why everyone is confused how he made it so far after only ranking third in his own school’s bee.

Logainne Schwartzandgrubenniere (Bailey Carlson) is a perfectionist with two gay fathers pressuring her to win at all costs.

William Barfee’s (Eric Micks) hit “Magic Foot” perfectly describes his strategy to win – he spells out the words on the ground with his foot as he spells them out loud.

Marcy Park (Analisa Swerczek) is slightly strange and more than awkward but comes across as simply fabulous in her hit, “I Speak Six Languages.”

Olive Ostrovsky (Jennifer Tritz) is a shy, sweet girl whose father works long hours while her mother is on a spiritual journey in India. She enjoys rearranging words to find phrases within them, and even finds ‘love’ with the spelling bee champ.

The bee is conducted by Rona Lisa Perretti (Theresa Sindelar), a former spelling bee champ with a spelling bee passion-gone-obsession, and Vice Principal Douglas Panch (Gordon Krentz), a slightly neurotic man who has recently returned from a five year hiatus, but claiming he is much better now.

Mitch Mahoney (Roderick Cotton) is the intimidating comfort counselor who hands out juice boxes and escorts the losers out of the gymnasium as part of his court-ordered community service.

Spellers are allowed to ask for the definition of each word, as well as have the word used in a sentence. The sentences were often more comical to the audience than helpful to the spellers.

Everything about the show was hilarious, keeping the audience in fits of laughter throughout the performance.

The show runs through March 27 with performances Thursday through Saturday beginning at 7:30 p.m., and Sunday at 2 p.m.

Tickets are $40 for adults and $24 for students, and can be purchased by calling 553-0800 or online at omahaplayhouse.org or ticketomaha.com.

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