Theater Review: Spelling Bee

The 25th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee AACI, Jerusalem,October 25.

Spelling Bee 370 (photo credit: Sarit Brown)
Spelling Bee 370
(photo credit: Sarit Brown)
Can you spell “syzygy,” let alone know what it means, cite its language of origin or use it in a sentence? Just ask the cast of the J-Town Playhouse Theater Project.
The final performance of The 25th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee’s run at the Jerusalem AACI was sold out, but that did not deter the capital’s theatergoers, who lined up prior to curtain time to purchase standing-room- only tickets. Presented by the local amateur theater group, the Tony-winning Broadway musical comedy by William Finn and Jay Reiss, based on the book by Rachel Sheinkin, hit just the right chord with the crowd.
Set in a fictitious town in the United States, the play centers around the hopes and dreams of a small group of quirky middle school finalists who are vying to earn the prestigious title of spelling bee champion. The words they are asked to spell are real corkers. And when each contestant asks for his or her word to be used in a sentence, the illustrative examples are hilarious.
As for the performance itself, the singing may not have been pitch perfect and the dancing may have been a little too restricted by the small stage, but it was all done with such energy and enthusiasm that it was endearing.
For an Anglo audience in Israel that is always thirsting for good material in English, this play fit them to a T. As one of the audience members commented after the performance, “I knew it was a musical, but I didn’t know it would be so funny.” In fact, as the audience jostled their way out of the crowded theater, they all had big smiles on their faces.
An additional performance of Spelling Bee will take place at AACI Netanya on November 8. For more information, call (09) 833-0950. There will also be an upcoming performance in Ma’aleh Adumim. For more information, call AACI Jerusalem at (02) 566-1181.