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'Putnam County Spelling Bee' at ASU April 13-17

Article Published: Apr. 7, 2011 | Modified: Sep. 7, 2011

Appalachian State University's Department of Theatre and Dance presents the musical comedy, "The 25th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee," April 13-17 at the Valborg Theatre.

Performances begin at 7:30 p.m. Wednesday through Saturday, and 2 p.m. on Sunday, April 17.

The production includes audience participation, with four volunteers needed for each performance. Volunteers can register to be chosen as one of the spellers when purchasing their ticket in advance at the Valborg Theatre box office, or in the lobby 30 minutes prior to each performance. No previous acting or spelling experience is required.

Few things in the life of a child are as unforgiving of a mistake as a spelling bee: One misstep, and you are eliminated. "The 25th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee" explores the lighthearted, as well as poignant, trials and tribulations of 10 young middle-school spellers competing for a spot in the national spelling bee.

Six spellers are played by the cast and four by audience members who volunteer at each performance. The audience is addressed as if it were spectators and supporters attending the spelling bee.

The comedic tone of "Spelling Bee" is slightly irreverent with a PG-13 rating for occasional strong language and situations. Comparable to a "Saturday Night Live" sketch, "Spelling Bee" provokes laughter by creating a connection between the characters' lives and the lives of the audience.

Everyone can empathize with the pressure to perform and win, while facing the fear of failure and embarrassment.

The musical is produced by the ASU Department of Theatre and Dance, with support from the Hayes School of Music. Joel Williams directs the production, and Joby Bell is the music director. Susan Lutz is choreographer, and Martha Marking is costume and makeup designer. Michael Helms is scenic and lighting designer.

The Department of Theatre and Dance thanks its 2010-11 season sponsors, Boone Baglery and Joe's Italian Kitchen.

Tickets are $15 for adults, $13 for faculty/staff and seniors, and $6 for students and youth. Groups of 10 or more patrons receive a discount on regular ticket prices. For more information, contact the box office manager at (828) 262-8342 or (828) 262-3063.

The box office is open Monday, Wednesday and Friday from 2 to 5 p.m., Tuesday and Thursday from noon to 5 p.m., and one hour prior to each performance. Attendees may purchase tickets in person, by phone at (828) 262-3063, or online at

The Valborg Theatre is located at 480 Howard St., behind the Turchin Center for the Visual Arts. Parking is available after 5 p.m. on campus in faculty lots, the parking deck behind the Carol G. Belk Library and Information Commons, and behind the Turchin Center for the Visual Arts.

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