The Spelling Bee is a beloved American pastime, encouraging good sportsmanship and the pleasure of taking part; however, deep down it becomes clear every contestant has a thirst for glory. Four Wheeled Theatre’s production of
They all posses their own unique and quirky qualities that make them all equally memorable
Ms Peretti (Bethany Marvin) takes us through the competition, addressing the rules and traditions of the Spelling Bee. We see each contestant get eliminated and hear their disappointment of losing and why winning was so important. As we learn about each contestant’s backstory and see their determination it’s difficult to choose a favourite to win.
The children are portrayed in a beautifully cartoonish way that lives up perfectly to the American Stereotypes we’ve all come to love. They all posses their own unique and quirky qualities that make them all equally memorable. Chip Tolentino (Tim Wilson) contributes greatly to the vocals of the group and gives off a cynical representation of the bitter sore loser. Leaf Coneybear (Jack Donald) is difficult not to love from start to finish, with a charmingly bright-eyed optimism. Simon Butler deserves an honourable mention for his characterisation of William Barfée which gives off a strong resemblance to Disney’s beloved Mad Hatter, Ed Wynn. As an actor he’s a pleasure to behold and a real highlight of the show. Marcy Park (Ellen Gray) and Logainne SchwartzandGrubenierre (Charlotte Chambers), who conveys a very convincing speech impediment, both show perfectly their characters maturity beyond their years; meanwhile Olive Ostrovsky (Ellena Taylor) projects a doe-eyed innocence and vulnerability with ease.
Some sections of the musical drag, particularly when changing roles to represent the children’s parents. The transition of the characters aren’t always drastic enough to make these scenes stand out. With their original characters having such big personalities, their parent counterparts are at points easily forgotten when they actually should contribute greatly to the kid’s backstories.
The dynamic of the group oozes professionalism. This appears to be a seasoned company with every member being tuned into the same wavelength. The way they bounce off one another contributes greatly towards the pace and rhythm of the show even when incorporating members of the public into the choreography. As with all audience interaction the cast has to be prepared for things to go wrong at any moment and together they are bulletproof. This is an uplifting and highly enjoyable performance not to be missed, even if it does make you ashamed of your own personal spelling capabilities.