CSUN theatre Department spells diversity with musical

Anthony Carpio

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The 2005 Tony award-winning musical comedy, “The 25th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee,” will be performed at Nordhoff Hall’s Little Theatre starting Sept. 23.

The play is based on a book written by Rachel Sheinkin and is being directed by Garry Lennon.

“On one hand, it’s simply the story of a junior high school spelling bee, but it goes into whole other things,” said William Taylor, theatre manager at CSUN.

The theatre department tries to diversify the types of plays it puts on each year, Taylor said.

“Sometimes, it’s tough in theater to get really current musicals because they keep running forever,” he said. “It’s not like doing the 500th version of ‘Oklahoma.’ It’s something people haven’t seen, and it speaks to today’s generation.”

The plot is centralized around six students who come from different backgrounds and deal with their own unique problems while competing in a spelling bee, said Alana Cheuvront, assistant stage manager of the play.

“It’s a coming-of-age story,” Cheuvront said. “Everyone has their own individual challenges. Even the adults in the play have their own issues that they are dealing with.”

What makes this musical different from others is that they ask for audience volunteers to participate with the show, Taylor said.

“Each evening they are going to ask for volunteers from the audience to come up,” he said. “The show changes depending on who the attendees are.”

Taylor said that he would like President Jolene Koester to participate in the play before she retires.

Some essential characters of the play include a student who has two gay fathers, another student who was raised by hippies and another student who spells by drawing the words with their feet, Taylor said.

This 90-minute play is meant to inspire and connect with the audience, Cheuvront said.

“We all have a battle to face, and this is their battle,” she said. “It’s fun to see how these characters overcome their battles.”