The 25th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee – Four Wheeled Theatre
22nd-28th August, 17:00
Paradise in Augustines (Venue 152)
At the 25th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee six teenagers compete to be crowned the champion speller. An incredibly witty and fast-paced musical, which Four Wheeled Theatre has really done justice. The combination of the fantastic cast and catchy songs means you’ll want to see it again and will be singing the songs all the way home.
The musical starts just like you’d expect a spelling bee to begin, as it feels like you’re walking into a high school gymnasium. A live band plays music at the back and Lisa Peretti (Bethany Marvin) introduces all the competitors, including three selected from the audience. The six competitors all have distinctive personalities which serves to make it a hilarious show. As the musical progresses so does the spelling bee and each of the competitors eventually leave the bee until one is crowned champion. If you do not know the musical you might assume it could be a fairly boring show considering it is about a spelling bee, but I can assure you it is such an original musical and the plot is wittier than you’d initially think.
Four Wheeled Theatre’s production was extremely well-cast but it must be said that a few actors stood out. Ellena Taylor as Olive Ostrovsky was by far my favourite, the newcomer to the Putnam County competition, Taylor perfectly captured Olive in every way. Flawlessly singing her way throughout the show and it must be said this particular rendition of ‘The I Love You Song’, also featuring Tim Wilson and Bethany Marvin, was one of the best versions I’ve heard and the highlight of the show. Similarly, Sam Lane as Vice Principal Panch and Jack Donald as Leaf Coneybear were both hilarious throughout the show and never failed to make the audience laugh.
Whilst this performance was by no means flawless, some of this was not the fault of the cast. Microphones occasionally didn’t work and cracking throughout the show did ruin it a little because it was not only distracting but also hard to hear, which was a shame. However, there was also a bit of stumbling over some of the dialogue, which just gave the impression that it could have been slightly more polished.
Nevertheless, this show is amongst the best things I’ve seen at the fringe and I would thoroughly recommend it to everyone, even those who do not know the musical. A witty script that is performed brilliantly with very few faults, a must-see at the fringe.