By Kendra Hennis
Don’t miss your chance to S-E-E this year’s spring musical, “The 25th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee” at Tuscola Community High School April 27 through May 1. Shows run Monday through Saturday beginning at 7 p.m., as well as a 2 p.m. performance on Saturday.
The Tony-winning musical is a one-act musical comedy set in Putnam Valley Middle School, where six students each bring their own quirky approach to the spelling competition that is run equally as unique adults. Director Johanna Steffens said that she decided on this show because it was perfect for the COVID-19 situation. It features a small cast, limited costume changes and choreography, and no set changes. She also said that “it was a good group of kids for the show, and allows the opportunity to feature a lot of talented actors and their personalities.”
This years’ cast includes Raeanna Boyer, Alyssa Brazzell, Aly Brucker, Mady Boyd, Caleb Haste, Dustin Hale, Kaleb Jeffers, Liriel Jones, Grant Kauffman, Justine Kauffman, Andrew Penne, Miranda Tschopp, Alexis Shinn, Reagan Smith, Thomas Spillman, Brady Urban, and features the musical stylings of Musical Director Hannah Church.
Steffens had to make some minor changes to the musical due to COVID-19 guidelines, including the audience participation in the show. Usually, audience members are brought to the stage. This year, they will be joining them from the audience. Seating is also limited to 50, there is no intermission, and no refreshments will be available. This is additionally the school’s first time using digital music instead of orchestration. This forces the actor’s timing to be essential since they are on a timed system, and gives more of a live feel to the show. Steffens also noted that face masks being worn by actors also challenges actors to perform more with their body language, and not just rely on facial expressions.
With the uncertainty of the COVID-19 pandemic and social-distancing guidelines, students were thrilled to even be able to put on a show this year. Steffens said that while they were very lucky to be able to perform this year and in 2020, that was not the case for many schools. She noted that the seniors are very excited to be able to get the chance to perform again, and the students are looking forward to ending their year on a positive note.
Tickets are available for preorder only on the GoFan app. They can be purchased by visiting https://gofan.co/app/school/IL15346.