Who thought a spelling bee could be so funny?

Amidst the events and festivities over Carnival, it can be hard to focus on any responsibilities during those few days.

However, the members of Scotch’n’Soda produced a fantastic and well put-together performance of The 25th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee, displaying hard work and focus even during such a busy time. It was great to see quality acting, an interesting and fun storyline, engaging dialogue, and creative set design that involved the audience.

The show is centered around a spelling bee competition in the fictional Putnam Valley Middle School. The characters are the six contestants of the spelling bee, who are each quirky and have complex backstories, as well as two adults who are as equally quirky and ridiculous.

As the musical progresses, each character reveals a connection to the spelling bee and the importance of winning the competition. Each character has a backstory that deals with a relationship or situation in their life that adds a complex meaning to their participation in the spelling bee.

Olive (played by sophomore voice major Shannyn Rinker), a shy girl competing in the spelling bee, reveals her distant relationship with her parents — who are not present to watch her compete — and her yearning for their affection.

Marcy, (played by senior costume design major Abby Botnick), another contestant who appears extremely knowledgeable and intimidating throughout the show, performs a musical number “I Speak Six Languages” in which she reveals the stress and pressure she experiences from her family to excel at many things. After, she purposely misspells a word and is disqualified from the competition.

The contestants all slowly develop relationships among each other throughout the course of the play, which also affect the outcome of their competition.

The acting in the show was great; each actor portrayed unique mannerisms and voices for the characters, giving an immediate sense of what the characters were like. Rinker maintained Olive’s reserved quality even as she revealed the complexity of the relationship with her parents and performed her musical numbers, especially “The I Love You Song.”

Barfée, the cocky contestant set on winning, played by junior voice major Ethan Crystal, was humorous and engaging in his tactics, saying “I know” when he was told that he spelled a word correctly.

The acting made the show humorous, fun, and a pleasure to watch, and was especially impressive for a show like this one that requires a decent amount of comedic improvisation from its actors.
The members of Scotch’n’Soda arranged the plays’ set in such a way as to involve the audience as much as possible. At times, the actors walked through the audience and out the back door of the theater when going off stage. During intermission, an actor portraying a snack boy walked around the audience, and as the show resumed, he went straight from the audience onto the stage to perform his music number “Chip’s Lament.” The audience thus also served as the audience for the spelling bee in the show, adding a creative and engaging touch to the play.

Overall, Scotch’n’Soda put on a great production that was funny and fun to watch. Student reactions were glowing, with first-year undeclared Dietrich College student Laura Gunsalus calling the show “very cute and charming” and first-year business administration student Brian Walsh praising Scotch’n’Soda’s ability to “perform a musical that relies as much on improvisation as it does on written music.”

The great acting, storyline, and set made the show fun to be a part of. During the busy time of Spring Carnival, it can be difficult to put hard work and effort into a show, but the members of Scotch’n’Soda did a fantastic job with their acting and set design to create a wonderful and engaging spelling bee.