Colleges combine for musical that’s sure to be spellbinding

A SCHOOL play about a spelling bee. Seems kind of appropriate.

Lights, camera, action: Putting the finishing touches on their performances at a full dress rehearsal for the St Patrick’s College and Loreto College joint production of The 25th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee are, from left, Lily O’Shea, Daniel Sully, Georgia Collier, Daniel Hillman, Laura Main and Linus Tolliday. PICTURE: JUSTIN WHITELOCK

Lights, camera, action: Putting the finishing touches on their performances at a full dress rehearsal for the St Patrick’s College and Loreto College joint production of The 25th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee are, from left, Lily O’Shea, Daniel Sully, Georgia Collier, Daniel Hillman, Laura Main and Linus Tolliday. PICTURE: JUSTIN WHITELOCK

More than 80 students from St Patrick’s College and Loreto College are in the midst of rehearsals this week for the two Catholic schools’ combined musical: The 25th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee. 

On Thursday virtually the entire cast and crew came together for a dress rehearsal to fine-tune the performance at St Patrick’s College.

The show’s director, Greg Shawcross, said The 25th Annual Putnam Country Spelling Bee, which will be performed at Her Majesty’s Theatre, was an ideal choice for a school production, and not just for the obvious reason.

“It has a lot of roles in it, so it gives students a lot of opportunities to take on good roles,” Mr Shawcross said. 

“It also has a good spread of boys’ and girls’ roles. 

“Today (Thursday) was about putting all the elements together – technical, orchestra, and the cast.” 

Spelling Bee is a musical play about six tweens competing in a major spelling championship. The audience learns about each competitor’s background through flashbacks and there is audience participation as well.

“It was a show on Broadway which won two Tony Awards,” Mr Shawcross said. “It has since become very popular around the world.”

There are 12 lead roles and an ensemble cast of 50, along with 11 orchestral musicians and a score of technical and backstage crew.

Musical director and producer Mark Witham said management of the combined school production usually alternated between the two colleges but St Patrick’s was doing it for the second year in a row this year.

“We hosted it last year and usually that would mean it is Loreto’s turn this year but they asked us to swap,” he said.

“They preferred to host it next year to coincide with the official opening of the new The Mary’s Mount performing arts centre at Loreto.”

Spelling Bee will run for three nights from July 31 to August 1, at 7.30 each evening. Tickets are $20 for adults and $15 for concession and are available at www.hermaj.com

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