Community theatre and DHS team up for Broadway musical

The Broadway musical “The 25th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee” opens on Friday.

The Broadway musical “The 25th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee” opens on Friday.

Not to be confused with an actual orthography competition, “The 25th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee” is a quirky musical. Drama unfolds as six middle school tweens not only face challenging and possibly made-up words, but also overcome challenges of their own throughout.

Winner of the Tony and the Drama Desk Award for Best Book in 2005, the musical that started on Broadway, the play opens March 18 at the CVIC Hall.

“Featuring a fast-paced, wildly funny and touching book by Rachel Sheinkin and a truly fresh and vibrant score by William Finn, this bee is one unforgettable experience,” Music Theatre International said about the musical.

Since the play features middle school students, the Carson Valley Community Theatre and Douglas High School Drama department wanted the musical to be as accurate as possible and teamed up for the production.

“We figured a collaboration would be great,” said Carson Valley Community Theatre Secretary Diana Jones. “This show is basically about a spelling bee for kids and it just made sense to do it with the high school.

Jones said the high school was not able to put on the musical on their own for many reasons, one being space.   

“They couldn’t do the show on their own due to a number of reasons and we can, so it worked out great for both groups,” she said.

High school students have performed with the theatre company on projects in the past including “You’re a Good Man, Charlie Brown,” in 2017, and the theatre has supported the high school with financial donations, lending items and props, and teaching them set building and more, but the upcoming musical is the first collaborated production between the two.

“When asked if I would work with them, I wanted to do this particular musical,” said Douglas High school Drama and English Teacher Amy Sando, which she said she has been fond of for several years.

“I fell in love with this musical the first time I saw it and each time after that,” said Sando. “It has so much emotion wrapped up in it.”

Both theatres are looking forward to working together and presenting the show to the community. 

Meet “The 25th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee cast

• Athena Gribbin is a junior at Douglas High School playing Olive Osrtovsky in the musical. Gribbin is a native Nevadan and a second generation American on her mother’s side. Her grandmother was born in Belfast, Ireland and migrated to the U.S. when she was six years old. Her family has been Carson Valley residents since 1950. Gribbin’s artistic background includes the Douglas High School Dynamics, the DHS marching band, and she enjoys developing her artistic talents in ceramics and welding. She plans to attend UNR after high school for a business degree and own her own welding fabrication business. This is her first theatrical endeavor and she’s so excited to be a part of it. 

• Jewely Palmer is a sophomore at Douglas High School playing Marcy Park. Palmer grew up in Gardnerville, but her family come from the Netherlands. She enjoys skiing, writing her own songs and playing the Kalimba. 

• Ryan Stockton is portraying Leaf Coneybear in the musical. Stockton started performing in 2017 as part of the Imagination Syndicate, a theatre group in Carson City. He became hooked on theater, particularly musicals, performing in the ensemble in “Beauty and the Beast,” as Ryan in “A Christmas Chaos,” as Bela Zangler in “Crazy for You” and in the ensemble for “Matilda.” He also enjoys tap dancing and hopes to direct a musical one day. 

• Zephyr Delgado is a sophomore at Douglas High School. He loves his family, friends and video games. He has a passion for music and singing and has felt it has always been a natural talent for him. Now, with the launching of this play, he feels it may open up more avenues for him in drama. Delgrado is playing Chip in the musical. 

• Amara Brown is a senior at Douglas High School playing Logainne Schwartzandgrueniere in the musical. Brown was born and raised in Carson Valley. Music has been a passion of hers since she was little, but this production will be her entrance into the world of musical theatre. She has taken part in choir since six grade and plans to broaden her musical experience in college. She is excited to take part in “The 25th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee.” 

• Jennifer Keim is playing Rona Lisa Perretti in the musical. Keim is a busy working mom and wife. She graduated Douglas High School in 1998 where she participated in theatre. She is excited for the opportunity to jump back into it after 20 years. 


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