Arts and Entertainment

Cast invites audience to be part of the 'Bee'

The cast of the 25th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee – including from left, Dave Cox, Jessie Glancy, Nadine Baxter, Savanna Smith, Kelsey Johnson, Brandon Kinney, Jim Rogers, Candice Metzger and Anthony DeLeon – perform the musical number
The cast of the 25th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee – including from left, Dave Cox, Jessie Glancy, Nadine Baxter, Savanna Smith, Kelsey Johnson, Brandon Kinney, Jim Rogers, Candice Metzger and Anthony DeLeon – perform the musical number 'Magic Feet.' Shawn Skager/Auburn Reporter
— image credit: Shawn Skager/Reporter

Theatergoers at the Auburn Avenue Theater will not only get the chance to watch the Auburn Community Players production of "The 25th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee", they may also get a chance to take the stage and be part of the cast.

According to director Suzanne Messinger, before each performance of the play, four audience members will have the opportunity to join the cast on stage as participantd in the bee.

The play premieres at 7:30 p.m. Friday, one of seven performances at the historic theater.

"Having the audience members on the stage, you just never know what's going to happen," Messinger said. "Every single night is a different show. That's obviously very fun for the cast members and the audience."

The production is the sixth play put on by the Auburn Community Players but the first Messinger has directed, according to producer Jim Kleinbeck. The play takes a humorous and touching musical glimpse into the lives of six adolescents as they compete in a spelling bee run by three adults

"They've done a wonderful job. It's been a great change of pace to work with new people, even though she's (Messinger) been our musical director the last couple of shows," Kleinbeck said. "They bring a new perspective. They definitely have put a lot of blood, sweat and tears into this show."

Messinger said the play's humor and its focus on adolescence made her jump at the chance to direct it.

"This play is about the journey that kids go through in their adolescence," she said. "I've seen it a couple times and almost directed it once. I just fell in love with the story of each kid. We all know somebody like this, we grew up with somebody like this. There is the home-schooled kid, there is the kid that knows everything about everything. There is the girl that can do everything, and she does it all. We can all identify with every character in there in one way or another. That spoke to me.

"And the humor is in there, it vacillates between being very funny and very touching," Messinger added. "There is a lot of good emotion in it. And good music."

The Auburn Community Players have been working on the show since April, said Messinger, who hopes the affection the cast has developed for their roles comes through during the performances.

"All of these people have day jobs. Nobody is a professional actor, but they've just done an amazing job with each character and put their hearts and souls into it, that's for sure," she said.

The "25th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee" starts at 7:30 p.m. Friday, with shows on June 1, 7, 8, 14 and 15 at 7:30 p.m. There will be a 2 o'clock matinee on June 9.

Tickets are $17, $15 for students and seniors and are available by calling 253-931-3043 or online at www.auburnwa.gov/arts.

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