New Amateur Musicals Company Spell It Out

Sep 30 2013 | By More

Blackout Productions take on the 25th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee

Promotional image for Blackout Productions' 25th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee

Promotional image for Blackout Productions’ 25th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee

By Thom Dibdin

Blackout Productions, Edinburgh’s newest amateur musical theatre company, opens its account on Tuesday, with the 25th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee.

Running nightly to Saturday 5 October at the St Brides Centre on Orwell Terrace, the production will be directed by Gaby Pavone with Moray Nairn as Musical Director.

“We are a brand new company for Edinburgh and the Lothians” company publicist Carole Gibson told Æ, adding: “this is the first show we are putting on as this company, but we all come from am dram backgrounds and have been involved in amateur theatre for lots of years between us!”

Spelling Bee seems like a great place to start. With a pair of Tony’s under its belt for the original 2005 Broadway production – including best book for Rachel Sheinkin – it is a quirky show which runs a bit longer than its one act would imply. Conceived by Rebecca Feldman, music and lyrics are by William Finn, who is also responsible for the recent musical adaptation of Little Miss Sunshine.

The plot is simple: six youngsters – geeky outsiders all – take part in the annual spelling bee in a fictional American county. It’s the one place where they can stand out yet fit in at the same time, vying for the spelling championship of a lifetime. And the three adults running the bee are no less outsiders than their charges.

One the show’s great delights is its use of a clutch of audience members to join the six young characters on stage and see how far they can get in the competitive spelling. Played well, it gathers up and uses its audience in the show in a manner which easily dispels with the fourth wall – they are the spelling bee audience, as well as the show’s audience.

Who is who in The 25th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee:

The Adults:
Rona Lisa Peretti (Lesley Ward) A former Putnam County Spelling Bee Champion and returning moderator.
Vice Principal Douglas Panch (James Dickson) Following an “incident” at the Twentieth Annual Bee, Panch is now in a better place and returns after five years as judge.
Mitch Mahoney (Steven Smyth) The Official Comfort Counsellor. An ex-convict, Mitch is performing his community service with the Bee.
The participants:
Olive Ostrovsky (Emily Goad) A newcomer to competitive spelling. Her mother is in an ashram in India, and her father is working late. As usual.
William Barfait (Ronan Radin) A finalist at last year’s Bee when he was eliminated because of a peanut allergy.
Logainne SchwartzandGrubenierre (Judith Barron) the youngest of the spellers, overtly right-on Logainne has two overbearing gay fathers.
Marcy Park (Emma Sedlak). Recently arrived in Putnam, Marcy placed ninth in last year’s nationals. She is somewhat precocious and is not allowed to cry.
Leaf Coneybear (Alex Lyne). A homeschooler and the second runner-up in his district, Leaf comes from a large family of former hippies and makes his own clothes.
Chip Tolentino (Graeme Melvin and Rory MacLean on split nights) A boy scout and champion of the Twenty-Fourth Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee, Chip is returning to defend his title.

The 25th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee: Tue 1 – Sat 5 October, 2013
St Brides Community Centre, 10 Orwell Terrace, Edinburgh, EH11 2DZ
Tickets £12.00 and £10.00 from
Facebook page for the show:
Blackout Productions on twitter: @ablackoutprod


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