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25th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee

25th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee
Peoria Players Theatre 
June 4 - 7

By Erika Evans

A spelling bee is a fun event, one many participated in as children. The name alone conjures up a picture of happy kids trying their best to spell difficult words, maybe with some being more invested than others. Peoria Players Theatre’s production of Spelling Bee encompasses all of the joy that takes place, as well as the devastation. The characters are humorous throughout the show, even as you learn their back stories which make them increasingly relatable. 

The stage was set perfectly, with decorations that brought images of grade school. A combination of blue objects and bright lights made the background calming, allowing it to fade into the background and frame the characters. It’s an excellent setting for a high energy show, simple yet effective. One of the most impressive features is the bleachers, which move and are used in impressive ways during musical numbers. 

A powerful performance was given by the cast, with Rona Lisa (Angie Dorough) as the spelling bee supervisor. Dorough is the epitome of a patient teacher who wants children to succeed, with just the right dose of na├»ve humor. Olive (Emma Luttrell) is a nerdy and sweet girl who shows that winning isn’t everything, portrayed with wit and compassion by Luttrell. Marcy (Breeann Dawson) plays the tough girl who is always perfect at everything, but later breaks through those expectations with a very powerful voice. Logainne (Jes King) is the other girl who must be great at everything, but for astonishing reasons. King is humorous and frustrating, showing us another side of the type of person everyone knew as a child. Leaf (Ryan Groves) gives an excellent performance as the kid who is still finding himself, discovering that he has talents even if others around him say differently. Barfee (Joel Shoemaker) is a quirky speller who at first annoys, but later on steals your heart. Chip (Kyle King) gives a slightly short, but incredibly amusing performance. Mitch (Matt Stubbs) and Vice Principal Panch (Jeff Craig) add a lot of laughs to the show, while also inspiring us to help others. 

With exceptional voices and musical accompaniment, this show will have you swaying along and feeling a wide range of emotions. The orchestra was phenomenal, never seeming to miss a beat and enhancing the show in a very positive way. Lighting was bright and stayed the same for the entire show, while it could have been used in a more creative way, it highlighted the characters well. 

A show that has heart as well as fantastic music, Spelling Bee is definitely worth heading out to Peoria Players. With the catchy tunes, the commentary on everyday life situations, and the relationships built throughout the story this is a show that will remind you of the hope and new beginnings that childhood, as well as life, bring. 

Spelling Bee continues at Peoria Players Thursday through Saturday at 7:30 pm and at 2 pm on Sunday. Tickets are $18 for adults and $12 for ages 18 years of age or younger and are available at the Box Office, by calling 309-688-4473 or online at 

Posted on June 5, 2015