Dancing, singing and comedy were taken on by GSU Players as part of the adult themed musical “The 25th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee.” Audience members were engaged and enthralled by the various topics that were introduced ranging from sexual orientation and politics to self-esteem and stress, all wrapped up in a succinct two-hour long package.
Prior to the show’s start, as the gathering audience began to get seated, the Putnam County Middle School Orchestra performed several basic pieces. During these segments, audience members were taken from the stage and asked to participate by playing slide whistle’s, triangles and maracas along with other engaging instruments with the orchestra.
Despite the orchestra’s use of sour notes scattered throughout the performances, the live music accompanying the musical itself was played seamlessly well.
The musical began with no hesitation from the cast to start their first number, singing about the silver anniversary of this spelling bee and introducing each characters persona in the process.
With splashes of purple pants, red shoes and yellow socks, the characters stood out as vibrantly as their style of acting. Each character’s portrayal was animated and had goofy traits. One character only spells out words with his foot, while another can only spell correctly after going into a trance.
All of the performers represented a different example of a one-dimensional character that found more depth and complexity as the story progressed.
Four individuals chosen from the audience were tossed into the pandemonium of the singing, dancing and acting on the stage, even being asked to spell words based on their own skill.
One by one the audience members got eliminated and given a juice box – or thrown a juice box – before being sent on their way. With their lack of a script or rehearsal, including them was a calculated risk that paid off with the addition of laughter and realism.
After the volunteers left, the remaining characters on stage felt corny at times but not so much as to distract the audience from enjoying the show. And any comedy over- shadowed the bits in the performance that were done over the top.
However, with all the comedy based around the characters, the humor was intentionally made for an older audience. They didn’t shy away from making fun of controversial issues such as the Occupy Atlanta movement and religion, with one character having talked to Jesus on stage.
Logainne Schwartzandgrubenierre, played by Kris Laroche, even addressed the most recent Repub- lican National Debate, calling Rick Santorum an unfit candidate under the guidance of her two fathers.
At the conclusion of the play, the plot didn’t go in the direction that the audience may have expected. The winning character of the spelling bee followed their intuition for pride as opposed to love, but this ending was a refreshing twist on what could have otherwise been seen as cliché.
The audience perceived the musical well. Rashad Cain, junior film and video major, said, “I enjoyed the musical. It was cool to see them get- ting involved with the audience.”
“The 25th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee” showed a usually unexciting event and made it compelling with a group of talented triple-threats that didn’t hold their tongues when performing for the audience.
Published November 14, 2011 in The Signal: “GSU Players take on heavy topics in latest musical”