Down for a Spell

Let’s face it: The top competitors at middle-school spelling bees probably aren’t future NFL quarterbacks, hedge-fund CEOs, or other professions requiring charisma, cunning, and/or exercise. They’re more likely to be future tech company founders, reclusive bloggers, and librarians. It takes a certain type of kid to devote his or her free time to properly spelling “Weltanschauung” and “syzygy,” and to that end, the eccentric, awkward tweens in composer William Finn’s enduring musical The 25th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee are probably not far from their real-life counterparts. These include the peanut-allergic William Barfee, the politically astute Logainne Schwartzandgrubenierre, and the international superstudent Marcy Park, all of them vying for bee supremacy under the authority of three equally quirky adults. The show plays out in one act, set mostly during the competition, with audience members interacting with the cast and even joining them onstage to spell words; in a previous production, Julie Andrews misspelled “supercalifragilisticexpialidocious,” and Al Sharpton hilariously flubbed “dengue” at the 2005 Tony Awards, where Putnam County won two statues. This element of interactivity ensures no two shows will be exactly the same, which goes for Slow Burn Theatre’s production, running this Thursday through April 19 at the Broward Center’s Abdo New River Room, located at 201 SW Fifth Ave. in Fort Lauderdale. Showtimes are 7:30 p.m. Thursday through Saturday and 3 p.m. Sunday. Tickets cost $45. Call 954-462-0222, or visit
Fri., Feb. 27, 2015
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John Thomason
Contact: John Thomason