La Salle Theater Returns To Live Performances With Spring Musical “The 25th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee”


Dakota Canzano

Opening night took place on Friday, May 21, and closing night will be Sunday, May 30.

Olivia Aragon, Staff Reporter

In the last production of the year, the drama department is putting on “The 25th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee.”

Unlike the rest of the productions this year, this musical has a live audience.

“The 25th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee” is about a group of elementary and middle schoolers with varying back stories who are all a part of a spelling competition.

“Each of these middle schoolers and elementary schoolers make up what the emotions are when you’re younger,” senior Bella Chalmers said. “Each character is helping to develop where you are in your stages of life.”

The musical this year, in comparison to past musicals that have been put on, is more centered on comedy and a humorous tone. 

Many of the cast members made some of their own creative choices when deciding how to portray their characters.

Senior Aislinn McCarthy, who is playing Marcy Park, said that she has added a Catholic school-girl element to her character.

For example, McCarthy said she makes her own “little remark[s], like [the other day] I said something about the 10 Commandments here and there, but that’s just because it’s funny,” she said.

Senior Egan Arntson said he also made a creative choice for his character, Willam Barfee, that goes against the grain of how the character is typically portrayed. 

Arnston said that many actors he has seen have played the character “very seriously,” he said. “He’s literally writing with his foot. How can you take that seriously?”

For this reason, Arntson is choosing to play Barfee in a more animated way.

Despite the fact that the musical is being performed on an outside stage that was built in the cafeteria courtyard instead of the auditorium, the cast and crew are all confident in the production of the musical.

Arntson, who has been in many productions in his past four years at La Salle, said that “I think we’re the most prepared for any show that I have ever been a part of.”

His fellow cast members echoed this sentiment.

“I feel so confident,” Chalmers said of opening night, which took place on Friday, May 21.“We’ve been working really hard and the hard work is paying off, so I am not worried.” 

Many things have changed in the rehearsing and setting up for the musical because of the pandemic.

Every day before rehearsal, the cast and crew must sign in on a designated sheet and also provide a green checkmark on their SchoolPass apps, signifying that they have filled out their wellness information and do not have any symptoms or exposure to COVID-19.  

The choice of the musical was greatly influenced by the pandemic. In previous years, the La Salle drama department has put on musicals that had larger casts, whereas this year, “The 25th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee” was chosen since it has a 13 person cast list, making it easier to follow CDC guidelines during rehearsals.

In addition to the choice of this year’s musical being affected by the pandemic, rehearsals also looked different due to COVID-19.

“It was very weird because we had to adjust to being able to sing with our masks on for all of our rehearsals, so [it was] hard to breathe and at the beginning,” said Arnston. “I was getting winded through like all of our songs, but towards the end, they definitely built up my lung capacity, where I was able to sing my long notes.”

Junior Nailah Nguyen mentioned that the way the hair and makeup crew does make-up this year is also different because of COVID-19. 

Instead of Nailah or other fellow makeup crew members applying the makeup, the cast members now do it by themselves. 

McCarthy mentioned that at the beginning of rehearsals, they were extremely cautious about social distancing, but since then, most of the cast and crew members have been vaccinated, which has made them feel less stressed about it.

“A lot of us have been at least vaccinated once, if not double vaccinated, I know I’m double vaccinated,” McCarthy said. “So, at this rate it’s kind of just like, not everyone’s super worried about it because the majority of the cast has been vaccinated, so that’s really nice.”

Additionally, senior Danny Nguyen, the head of costumes, noted that this year, putting together costumes has been a lot easier this year.

“I didn’t have to go rummaging around in our giant costume closet,” Danny said.“It was a lot of asking people to wear their normal clothes or bringing clothes that they already had at home.”

Most of the cast in this year’s musical consists of seniors, making it their last performance at La Salle. 

“I feel really grateful to [the drama] department for even providing me with the opportunity to do this,” Chalmers said. “This is the first musical I’ve acted in as a La Salle production, and it’s been incredible.” 

Chalmers said that she doesn’t want the last show to come to an end and that when it does the realization that high school is over will set in. 

The cast and crew members who spoke to The Falconer all encouraged people to come check out the show. 

“I think it’s really funny,” Danny said. “I think it’s super hilarious, I think [it’s] quirky and I think especially for this musical specifically, I think it’s very relevant, you can see yourself in the characters that are being portrayed.”

For those who missed last weekend’s performance of the musical, there will be performances happening this weekend. More information and tickets can be found on the La Salle Theater website.