WJU Students to Perform ‘Spelling Bee’ Play

Students at Wheeling Jesuit University will perform “The 25th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee,” a tale of young people and grown-ups who learn that winning isn’t everything and that losing doesn’t necessarily make you a loser.

Set to take center stage at 8 p.m. Thursday through Saturday, April 10-12, and at 2 p.m. Sunday, April 13, in Troy Theater of Swint Hall, “Spelling Bee” is a long one-act musical comedy centered on a fictional spelling bee.

“Spelling Bee” was conceived by Rebecca Feldman with music and lyrics by William Finn, book by Rachel Sheinkin and additional material by Jay Reiss.

It is a story of six young people in the throes of puberty who are overseen by grown-ups who barely managed to escape childhood themselves.

Dave Henderson, director of performing arts, said, “‘The 25th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee’ is a funny tale of overachievers’ angst chronicling the experience of six adolescent outsiders vying for the championship of a lifetime.”

The competition is intense. The words are hilarious. The show takes place in Putnam County, N.Y. Six kids face off in the battle of their lives. They compete against each other as well as members of the audience. Three adults help guide the proceedings: a nostalgic former spelling bee winner, a mildly insane vice principal and the official comfort counselor completing him community service to the state of New York.

The musical is set in a junior high school gym where the county spelling finals will take place. Winners from local elementary and middle schools begin to arrive and check in with the bee’s long-time hostess -and former champion – Rona Lisa Peretti.

The musical begins with Peretti entering the gymnasium to set up. As she passes by the microphone, she has a flashback to the moment when she won the third annual spelling bee by correctly spelling syzygy.

The spellers are introduced as they enter, and sing about their anticipation of the bee. Rona then welcomes the audience to the bee, and calls the selected four audience spellers to the stage.

One by one, spellers drop from the competition until there are just two remaining participants. As the two finalists go head to head, they find joy in their sense of competence and connection.

The production, which contains some mature themes, is free. No reserved seating will be available. For more information, call 304-243-2095.

Henderson said the WJU student cast members are Monica Remaniak, a sophomore from Cordova, Md.; Patrick Washington, a junior from Chesapeake, Ohio; Sean Shields, a sophomore from Cincinnati; Michael McGrail, a senior from Lordstown, Ohio; Samantha Herrington, a freshman from Bethel Park, Pa.; Erin Sheplavy, a senior from Willoughby, Ohio; Kelsey Zimcosky, a junior from Smock, Pa.; Alexa Frankovitch, a junior from Weirton; Si Gammache, a senior from Washington, D.C.; Ethan Casey, a junior from Wheeling; Stephen Probert, a sophomore from Frederick, Md., and Taylor Gagliardi, a freshman from Woodstown, N.J.