Drury Lane’s 25 ANNUAL PUTNUM COUNTY SPELLING BEE Begins Previews Tonight

SPELLING BEE castDrury Lane Theatre, 100 Drury Lane, will continue its 30thanniversary season with the Tony Award-winning musical comedy THE 25th ANNUAL PUTNAM COUNTY SPELLING BEE, previewing June 19, opening Thursday, June 26 at 8 p.m., and running through August 17, 2014. Scott Calcagno (Legally Blonde at The Civic Theatre, Grease at The Long Lake Theatre as well as the annual production of A Christmas Carol at Drury Lane Theatre) will direct.

THE 25th ANNUAL PUTNAM COUNTY SPELLING BEE is the uproarious story of six overachieving and quirky adolescents pitted against each other in the spelling challenge of a lifetime. The show brilliantly integrates an element of improvisation into each performance as audience members are chosen at random every night to participate in the bee along with the show’s characters, allowing the excitement and humor of a spelling bee to be experienced through the thoughts, emotions, and tribulations of the young competitors. SPELLING BEE is a satire with heart that teaches the characters and audience alike that winning isn’t everything and losing doesn’t necessarily make you a loser.

The New York Times called THE 25th ANNUAL PUTNAM COUNTY SPELLING BEE“I-r-r-e-s-i-s-t-i-b-l-e!” and USA TODAY exclaimed it is “A winning experience for everyone!” The Wall Street Journal raved the production “…perfect in every possible way – that rarity of rarities, a super-smart musical that is also a bona fide crowd-pleaser. An ingenious blend of simplicity and sophistication, it’s not merely funny, it’s wise.” Featuring witty and endearing music and lyrics by William Finn and a delightful book by Rachel Sheinkin, THE 25th ANNUAL PUTNAM COUNTY SPELLING BEEbecame an instant success Off-Broadway and later ran on Broadway for three years. Itwas nominated for six Tony Awards in 2005, including Best Musical, and won two, including the award for Best Book of a Musical.

SPELLING BEE cast 2The cast—one of the youngest assembled on the Drury Lane stage—includes Eli Branson as “William Barfee” (The Mother at Oracle Theatre), Landree Fleming as “Olive Ostrovsky” (Gypsy at Chicago Shakespeare Theater, Godspell and The 25th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee at Theatre at the Center), Carolyn Braver as “Logainne Schwartzandgrubenierre” (Leveling Up at Steppenwolf Theatre), Jordan DeLeon as “Chip Tolentino,” Zack Colonna as “Leaf Coneybear” (The Sound of Music at the Lyric Opera of Chicago), and Stephenie Soohyun Park as “Marcy Park” (The White Snake at Goodman Theatre, The Wheel at Steppenwolf Theatre). Also starring in the production is Frances Limoncelli as “Rona Lisa Peretti” (Half Magic and Queen Lucia at Lifeline Theatre), Joe Dempsey as “Douglas Panch” (Boys Room at Victory Gardens Theater,Art at Steppenwolf Theatre), and Jonathan Butler-Duplessis as “Mitch Mahoney” (Dreamgirls at the Marriott Theatre, A Christmas Carol at Theatre at the Center).

The production team includes Ben Johnson as Music Director (Les Misérables, Young Frankenstein and Next to Normal at Drury Lane Theatre), Jeff Kmiec as Scenic Designer, Lee Fiskness as Lighting Designer (Young Frankenstein at Drury Lane Theatre), Ray Nardelli as Sound Designer (Les Misérables, Miss Saigon, Young Frankenstein and Next to Normal at Drury Lane Theatre), Nick Heggestad as Properties Designer (Les Misérables at Drury Lane Theatre), and Erika Senase as Costume Designer (Les Misérables and Young Frankenstein at Drury Lane Theatre).

The performance schedule for THE 25th ANNUAL PUTNAM COUNTY SPELLING BEE is as follows: Wednesdays at 1:30 p.m. ($40), Thursdays at 1:30 p.m. ($40) and 8 p.m. ($45), Fridays at 8 p.m. ($50), Saturdays at 5 p.m. ($50), and 8:30 p.m. ($50), and Sundays at 2 p.m. ($50), and 6 p.m. ($45). Lunch and dinner theatre packages are available. Student group tickets start as low as $30 and Senior Citizens start at $35 for matinees and $50 for a matinee luncheon package. For reservations, call the Drury Lane Theatre box office at 630.530.0111, call TicketMaster at 800.745.3000 or visitwww.drurylane.com.