Spell the word: success

Freedom drama presents The 25th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee


Ashley Imhoff

During the March 27 performance, senior Keith Pawlowski leads the song “Magic Foot” as the fellow cast members back him up.

Ashley Imhoff, Features Editor

Strabismus, lugubrious, chimerical, omphaloskepsis and capybara were just a few of the quirky words the Drama Club enlightened the community with during their production of “The 25th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee.” Three shows ran to the public on March 25, 26 and 27. This year’s musical was once again directed by Ms. Debra Williamson, her daughter Gemma Mitchell and her husband Nick Mitchell.

“I chose this musical because of several reasons. First I knew we had the students to fill the roles. I also had to consider the budget. We took a big loss with the cancellation of last year’s show and our biggest fundraiser was canceled,” Williamson said. 

This newer (2005) musical glimpses into the lives of six awkward sixth graders competing for first place at the local spelling bee. Logainne Schwartzandgrubenierre, a politically enthused girl who is there to make her fathers proud, was played by senior Alexis Surenda. Olive Ostrovsky, a shy new face to the bee who is best friends with the dictionary, was played by senior Angel Clinkscales. William Barfee, a reclusive boy who used his “Magic Foot” to help guide him into spelling his given words correctly, was played by senior Keith Pawlowski. Leaf Coneybear, a natural creative who doubts his intellect yet finds amusement within the bee, was played by senior Francis Tavern. Chip Tolentino, a boy scout whose arrogance took over, leading him into being the first speller eliminated, was played by sophomore Kyler Brown. Marcy Parks, the uptight “All Business” type of girl, was played by sophomore Madison Sanders. The spelling bee was moderated by vice-principal Douglas Panch, played by sophomore Connor Tavern, and Rona Lisa Peretti, played by junior Elizabeth Shane. Mitch Mahoney, an ex-convict serving his community service as comfort support to the eliminated contestants, was played by Alexander Probst. 

Each speller’s distinct personality played a factor in how they were eliminated from the bee. The last two contestants were Olive and William. William debates if he really wanted to come in second place after developing a light-hearted middle school crush on Olive. He pushes back his feelings, spells the final word “Weltanschauung” and becomes the 25th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee champion. 

A slightly smaller cast was necessary with the uncertainty of the pandemic pandemonium. The season didn’t begin until January, although it would typically start around November. Auditions were held and roles were given throughout January. Followed by daily practices consisting of both vocals and blocking at an intense pace starting in February. All in all, the preparation time for this show was the shortest of any show under Williamson’s direction. 

“I think the show turned out to be really good, considering the short period of time we had to put it together. Everyone was prepared and did an amazing job,” Clinkscales said. 

When show time rolled around, the cast had roughly two months to prepare vocals, choreography, lines and most importantly, how to spell the words they were going to be given. Not only was the cast given words, but also audience members. Audience members were able to sign up to participate in the show before taking their seats in the auditorium. Rona Lisa Peretti would then call the spellers to take their seats in the front row and wait for their turn. Familiar faces such as principal William Deal, English teacher Heather Giammaria, junior Skylar DeThomas and freshman Wyatt Boyer signed up to spell. After participants misspelled their word, the cast would break out into the song, “Goodbye” as they were escorted back to their seats to watch the remainder of the show. 

“The audience interaction added a certain uniqueness to each show. Four different people who each acted differently were brought up each night and that gave for different jokes and just made a hilarious show even funnier,” Tavern said.  

This humorous show was a huge success that brought laughter, wholesomeness and new vocabulary words to the audience. With the cancelation of last year’s show, it was refreshing to see the Drama Club put on their annual musical to bring back a sense of spring normalcy at Freedom. 

As four lead senior members took their final bow, it’s now the underclassmen’s turn to shine in the musicals in the upcoming years. 

“I am very sad to leave, especially since musical has been a huge part of my life for the past four years. I hope that the underclassmen believe in themselves because I know they can achieve great things and go out on stage and shine like stars! I can’t wait to come back next year and see how they’ve grown,” Surenda said.