The 25th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee

Aug 16 2019 | By More

★★★★★    Spell-tastic

Paradise at Augustines (venue 152): Mon 12 – Sat 17 Aug 2019
Review by Sarah Moyes

Phylactery, cystitis, and Mexican are some of the words the contestants of have to spell in Room 29 Theatre’s hilarious production of The 25th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee.

Directed by Neil Lavin, this is the Tony Award-winning musical which ran on Broadway in 2005 which tells the story of an eclectic group of teenagers who are all vying for the chance to be crowned the spelling bee champion of Putnam County.

The 25th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee. Pic Room 29 Theatre

It begins with the upbeat and catchy title song as the entrants of this year’s competition are introduced. There’s newcomer Olive Ostrovsky (Rowan Hall), last year’s finalist William Barfée (Ross Hunter), politics fan Logainne Schwartz (Olivia Attwooll-Keith), recent transfer Marcy Park (Ailsa Ferguson), Leaf Coneybear (Michael Pellman) who was picked because first and second place in his round couldn’t make it, and last year’s winner Chip Tolentino (Josh Tinline Bartholomew).

Then it’s time for the latecomers to join the contest, a few lucky audience members who were handpicked from the queue outside on the way in. While they might have thought they were just to sit on stage as background characters, they are soon up spelling words to various levels of success. One of them who is a very good speller surprises everyone by spelling a word not even the cast thought he would get right.

It’s up to former Putnam Country Spelling Bee Champion Rona Peretti (Charlotte Jones) and Vice Principal Douglas Panch (John Bruce) to keep the competition in control alongside ex-convict Mitch Mahoney (Michael Smith) who is doing his community service at the Bee.


The musical is packed with really enjoyable songs, from the heart-warming My Friend, the Dictionary which is lead by Olive to the hilariously funny My Unfortunate Erection which Chip sings after messing up his word when he is distracted by a girl in the audience which leads to, well…

The cast of Room 29’s production of The 25th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee. Pic Room 29 Theatre

As the show goes on, more and more of the contestants are eliminated as they fail to spell their words correctly. While some pushy parents even try underhand techniques to try and ensure their children progress to the next round until it is down to the final two.

So, who will win The 25th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee? And will you be able to spell all the words? Well you can find out in this smart and laugh out loud musical.

Running time: One hour and 45 minutes (no interval)
Paradise in Augustines, 41 George IV Bridge, EH1 1EL (venue 152)
Monday 12 – Saturday 17 August 2019
Daily: 6.35pm.
Tickets and details:

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  1. Jack Bruce says:

    I would’ve liked to have known the reviewer’s thoughts on the actual production, i.e. performances, directing, choreography etc. I’m delighted Room 29 were given a very deserving five stars, but it would’ve been nice for us to know what elements made this stand out from the rest of the productions of Spelling Bee, of which there have been many over the years.

    • Jane Green says:

      I agree! This only talks about the show itself. I saw this production and the performances were amazing from every cast member! So much charisma, confidence and excellent comic timing from them all, and each had a fantastic voice. The choreography and blocking was just right for such a small stage, and especially impressive as many members of the cast were on stage for almost the entire show. A fantastic performance from Room 29.