The 25th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee (from here on mercifully abbreviated to APCSP) follows the trials and tribulations of six young spellers, along with some extremely fortunate/oh-god-what-did-I-sign-up for audience participators. Trying to pull off a Broadway musical on a Fringe budget is fairly challenging but the team from Mad Hatter Productions have not let this get in their way. The result is a thoroughly enjoyable evening.
Hannah Shayle-Kennedy’s performance as Olive Ostrovsky is brilliant throughout, as is Barney Fritz’s flexibility in switching between Leaf Coneybear and Carl Dad. There really isn’t a weak link in the cast and all should be praised for their enthusiasm and commitment to the role.
The music is also dealt with very well. The offstage band was tremendous. For a show that perhaps lacks a large hand of standout numbers, they kept the audience entertained and engaged with every song regardless. Simple yet effective, the four helped carry the show to the end.
A special mention must go to one of the audience participators who managed to spell several more words than the cast were expecting and kept them on their toes. Audience participation is a very unpredictable element and can be difficult to manage but the cast did a very good job of keeping things on track, even if they did have to somewhat manhandle some of the participators during a dance. For a fun and quirky evening, you can’t look much further than the 25th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee.