CCHS to present live music, comedy with this weekend’s production of “Spelling Bee”
By James Grob, email@example.com
After more than a year of not being able to put on a big performance for a live audience, the Charles City High School music and drama departments are excited to finally be able to have a show.
The kids hope people can come — and they hope they can tickle some funny bones.
“Come ready to laugh,” said musical director Derek Sturtevant. “It’s a funny show.”
CCHS will present the musical comedy “The 25th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee,” this weekend, with shows Friday at 7 p.m and Saturday at 2 p.m. at North Grand Auditorium. Seating will be socially distanced with the auditorium at 50% capacity, and masks will be required for audience members.
Tickets are available at showtix4u.com, and theater-goers can call 641-257-6500 if they need assistance. If any remain available, tickets will be sold at the door before the shows. The cost is $5 for students and $10 for adults.
“The energy and enthusiasm of the cast has been unique this year because they recognize its importance,” said assistant director Michelle Grob. “This is a step back toward normalcy, and they are ready to use their talents to entertain you.”
The cast has rehearsed with masks and other social distancing measures since January, and Sturtevant and Grob found clever ways to incorporate mask-wearing into the show.
“It impacts volume and enunciation — and facial expressions are lost — but this has also helped our actors grow,” Grob said. “They have had to learn to use their bodies more effectively and improve their diction.”
“The crazy thing is, we’ve gotten so used to wearing the masks that it doesn’t really seem like a big deal anymore,” Sturtevant added.
“The 25th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee” is a musical comedy with music and lyrics by William Finn, a book by Rachel Sheinkin, conceived by Rebecca Feldman with additional material by Jay Reiss. The show centers on a fictional spelling bee set in a geographically ambiguous Putnam Valley Middle School. Six quirky adolescents compete in the Bee, run by three equally quirky grown-ups.
Sturtevant said he picked the show because of the flexibility of numbers of students and because it’s an easy set and easy costuming. The cast and crew is made up of about 20 students.
Main characters in the show are Chip, played by Anders Haglund; Barfee, played by Griffin Franksain: Leaf, played by Breyer Ellison; Panch, played by Christian Howe; Mitch, played by Sincere Collins; Marcy, played by Avery Merta; Rona, played by Emma Schmiedel; Olive, played by Sophia Jensen; Schwartzy, played by Harper McInroy; Olive’s Mom, played by Teagan Prigge; Leaf’s Mom, played by Rosie Baldus; and Jesus, played by Cade Williams.
The ensemble includes Natalie White, Annemarie Hansen, Sydney Otto, Jillian Mutch, Rosie Baldus and Teagan Prigge.
Typically, CCHS presents a musical in the fall and a play in the spring. Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, Grob and Sturtevant decided to flip that around, and push the musical back to the spring.
“We’re on a different timeline that usual. We’ve had extra practices,” Sturtevant said. “This cast has been ready early, and we’ve been able to put some finishing touches on things and take it to the next level.”
The 2005 Broadway production of the musical earned good reviews and box-office success and was nominated for six Tony Awards, winning two, including Best Book. The show has spawned various other productions in the United States and other countries.