The 25th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee is not a show one would expect a children’s theater to produce, even in the hands of teens. The music is difficult, there are many elements of the show that can change on a whim, and the emotional journey of the show is kinda rough, to put it lightly. But if there’s one thing I’ve learned from being around here for only a brief 9 months, it’s that Savannah Children’s Theatre is no ordinary children’s theater, and challenges like this are exactly what they like to face head-on.
If you’re unfamiliar with the show, here it is: Putnam County is having its representational Spelling Bee Championship. The grade school spellers include a kid who spells with his foot, a “perfect” Girl Scout, an overwhelmed lisper with two dads, a girl who speaks six languages, a boy who wears a cape, and a girl whose best friend is a dictionary. Two adults with problems of their own wrangle the kids through the Bee with the help of a convict on parole doing community service as a “comfort counselor.” Sound like fun? Now throw in four audience members as ‘guest spellers’ every night and you have one wild show!
With so many elements to juggle, I decided to stick to an old acronym: K.I.S.S. Keep It Simple, Stupid. After all, what better way to tackle this show than to spell it? My role in this class show is to handle all things tech and to act as stage manager. Thanks to the work of Mike Prow with On-Site Services, lights aren’t usually much fuss when working in the Black Box Theatre. Fun work, though! F-U-N.
Teen Theatre Director, Laura Keena, and I had great communication and came up with lots of ideas together about the set. Overall, we’re keeping it simple. The setting is a gymnasium: championship pendants on the walls, 2D set pieces, and a basketball floor with a giant school mascot in the middle.
With the help of Eric Mitchell, we brainstormed on what kind of mascot Putnam High School would have, and we decided on the ever-elusive Snipe. This may or may not be a terrible idea, as paint on the floor of the Black Box has a tendency to not want to be paint on the floor of the Black Box for very long, but how could I say no to that face?
Joined by the amazingly talented Brandon Kaufman as Musical Director, the members of our creative team are all very familiar with the show and have seen it multiple times. I’m very excited about the work we’ve all put in so far and how unique this production is going to be. Join our Facebook Event to keep track of our progress. If you’ve never seen The 25th…Spelling Bee before, you’ll really enjoy it – but even if you have, you’ve never seen it like this.