“Spelling Bee” provides much needed comedic laughs

Rishi Verma '23, Sports Staff

Theater at Greenhills has been in one long intermission for the last two years given the Coronavirus pandemic and though there were still attempts to have theater digitally, nothing compares to the in person experience. This year was the first return of a musical on the stage in our building and the Greenhills theater performed The 25th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee this last weekend. The musical is also following Greenhills latest update to its mask policy with students actually being able to perform with their faces being fully seen if they so like.

I’m not necessarily a big connoisseur of plays and or musicals but I do enjoy them, so I went to one of the last dress rehearsals of the Greenhills production of Spelling Bee to get close to the process as well as see the whole show.

The show is directed by technology coordinator Gary Lehman and his style of directing is certainly his own. Lehman likes to make jokes and have a good time with the cast and I think his directing plays a big role in the enjoyment of the cast. They all seem to really enjoy it, even when changing things or correcting errors. I think this actually allows them to put on a better show as what I’ve learned is when one enjoys doing something they typically do it better and with their best effort and I don’t see why that would be any different for a theatrical production. Spelling Bee is a lighthearted comedy of a musical and I think Gary’s relaxed, humorous, yet focused directing style fits well with the piece they are performing.

The musical consists of an eclectic group of sixth-graders who arrive at Spelling Bee, each eager to win for very different reasons. Sweet yet shy Olive brings her only friend, a dictionary, with her to the bee; bold and certainly original competitor William Barfee uses his “magic foot” to propel him to greatness. Former champion Chip must learn to compete through personal struggle. Easily distracted, Leaf is convinced that he isn’t smart enough to be a challenger. Never satisfied Marcy is disappointed by her constant success. Lastly,  politically aware Logainne Schwartzandgrubenierre only wants to impress her parents. Through a diverse repertoire of characters Spelling Bee tells the story of each speller through hilariously personal songs as they make their way through the competition.

Spelling Bee put on by Greenhills certainly wasn’t a thriller that had audience members hanging by the edge of their seats but I think there’s definitely an important place in theater for more lighthearted easy-going pieces like this one. I found myself to actually really enjoy the piece but it also didn’t leave you pondering for hours after like some theatrical productions often do.

The plot was easy to pick up on and I was able to feel like I really understood all the different characters and even found myself rooting for some to win the bee. There was a lot of silly humor which I also appreciated as not all humor has to be interpreted and I liked how much of the humor were simple jokes or things said between the characters.

Greenhills also put an original twist on their production of Spelling Bee by including audience members as well as faculty as additional spellers in the bee which I think was entertaining for the audience as well as the actual individuals selected.

All in all I found my expectations to be thoroughly exceeded by the Greenhills production of Spelling Bee and I wouldn’t be surprised to find myself going to more Greenhills productions in the future.