Photo courtesy of James Goad. The 25th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee will be presented from Thursday to Saturday, April 25-27 at 7 p.m. as well as a matinee on Saturday at 2 p.m. at Newsome High School.

The Newsome High School Theatre Department presents The 25th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee from Thursday to Saturday, April 25-27 at 7 p.m. as well as a matinee on Saturday at 2 p.m. This show is literally a musical play on words.

Conceived by Rebecca Feldman and written by William Finn, Jay Rice and Rachel Sheinkin, Spelling Bee features an eclectic group of six mid-pubescents vying for the spelling championship of a lifetime. While candidly disclosing hilarious and touching stories from their home lives, the tweens spell their way through a series of (potentially made-up) words, hoping never to hear the soul-crushing, pout-inducing, life unaffirming ‘ding’ of the bell that signals a spelling mistake.

Six spellers enter; one speller leaves. At least the losers get a juice box. Newsome’s take on this Tony Award-winning musical includes a chorus of spellers’ families in the audience.

The cast features Tyler Mann as Chip, a Boy Scout and all-star pitcher with a 22-mile per hour fastball. Maria Moleiro plays Schwarzy (Logaine Schwartzandgrunenierre), the youngest and most politically aware contestant. Luke Patten is Leaf Coneybear, the somewhat wide-eyed offspring of hippie-ish parents; Michael Thanasides portrays William Barfee, an allergy-plagued overachiever with a unique approach to spelling in the bee. The spellers are rounded out with Alex Hickey as the overachiever, Marcy Park, and Samantha Lewis playing Olive Ostrovsky, the tentative newcomer.

Mackenzie Valentine is Ms. Rona Lisa Peretti, Ian Negron-Rodrigues plays Vice Principal Douglas Panch and Benjamin Sutherland is comfort-counselor Mitch Mahoney. The production is directed and choreographed by Newsome’s theatre teacher, Dr. Chad Cornwell. Jeffrey Bogue, Newsome’s chorus director, serves as the music director.

The production team includes students Paola Negron-Rodriguez as the assistant director, Sydney DeFelix as technical director and stage managers James Goad, Amber Johnson and Valerie Borland. The technical crew is entirely student-run, working lights and sound, set, props, costumes, hair and makeup.

Cornwell commented, “Newsome theatre is a developing educational theatre program, so having our students technically produce and perform in each production is the cornerstone of all that we do.”

It will take place in the Newsome High School Theater, located at 16550 Fishhawk Blvd. in Lithia. Discount tickets, $8 for adults and $5 for students, are available at Tickets may be available at the door for $10 each.

Doors open at 6:30 p.m. nightly and at 1:30 p.m. for the Saturday matinee. For more information, visit or email

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