You will not want to miss the opportunity to enjoy a fun evening out in downtown Tampa to see ‘The 25th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee,’ presented by MAD Theatre in the Shimberg Playhouse at the Straz Center for Performing Arts.

Several local residents are sharing their love for theater with the community through their participation in MAD Theatre’s presentation of The 25th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee. The show is being presented in the Shimberg Playhouse at the Straz Center for the Performing Arts in downtown Tampa until Saturday, February 10.

MAD Theatre is a nonprofit theater organization run by volunteers. MAD Theatre brings theater to the stage at an affordable price. Tickets to the show are just $28.

The 25th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee is the first show in MAD Theatre’s 25th Anniversary Season. The show is directed by Casey Vaughan, a resident of Riverview. Music direction is by Gibsonton resident Megan Zeitler. The artistic director for MAD Theatre is Tony Gilkinson, who is from Riverview.

Local actors include Richard Brown from the Riverview area and Gabrielle Ray from Brandon.

The 25th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee features an eclectic group of six mid-pubescents who vie for the 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.

Zeitler said, “As music director, I am responsible for teaching the music to both the singers and the band while also shaping the musical choices and direction of the show. During performances, I play the lead piano part while also conducting the live band. Musically, this show is really unique and interesting and has many musical surprises. Music directors are at most rehearsals and every performance, constantly tweaking the singers, the band and the sound to make the show really come together.”

Ray said, “In the show, I play Olive Ostrovsky. She is ambitious and smart and so endearingly awkward. I think a lot of people can relate to her in that sense, especially myself.” Ray added, “As someone who is relatively new with MAD, it is really nice to see a community theater that has been around and doing well for 25 years. I think it is so important to have that kind of community for people to get together and use their free time to do something that they are passionate about that makes them happy.”

For more information on MAD Theatre and to get tickets, please visit

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