Friday, February 01, 2008

The 25th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee The Musical - D-E-L-I-G-H-T-F-U-L - Theatre Mini Review

The 25th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee The Musical - National Tour - Elgin Theatre - Toronto, ON

Why do I always seem to get sick on the weeks when I bought tons of tickets for stuff? (When I'm back Sunday, I'll be seeing both Puccini's Tosca at the Canadian Opera Company AND the Spice Girls. On the SAME DAY. On Super Bowl Sunday. Yup. I'm gay.)

So I'm going to try to expand this when Im back from my working trip tomorrow (I figure I'll start it while I remember, since I still have yet to review Young Frankenstein (AMAZING cast, mediocre musical AT BEST, NOT worth anything over Lottery ticket prices) and Wicked (I liked WAY more this second time on Broadway with a better cast that made the show seem completely different and new. Still clunky and the ensemble songs are ridiculous but I liked it this time) from before Christmas).

I finally caught Spelling Bee The Musical after missing out so many times on Broadway (seriously, the Circle in the Square ticket booth guy has REAL attitude that I never wanted to return to even bother asking about availability (yet I did and got the same attitude, WTF?)) and while the music wasn't the greatest or very memorable (but I knew this already having listend to the Cast Recording already and even THEN I still didn't remember the songs), they were sufficient to carry the H-I-L-A-R-I-O-U-S show with a superb touring cast (including brother of one of the original cast members, because there can't be THAT many Keenan-Bolgers can there?)(half pictured above, with some changes in the Toronto cast lineup).

It was so enjoyable I actually forgot to cough and lasted the entire show as if I wasn't even sick!

The (adults playing the) kids were SOOOO cute!

Eric Roediger nailed the Barfay role which I actually thought would be harder (though I'm led to believe it's one of those roles that would win anybody an award if they did it) and I just read that this was his stage debut so even more impressive!

Andrew Keenan-Bolger (who has a hilarious video blog which will make you love him even MORE) was ADORABLE as Leaf Coneybear , Vanessa Ray had just the right amount of sweetness (though maybe a bit more volume may have helped) as Olive Ostrovsky and Dana Steingold was great and charming as Logainne Schwartzandgrubenierre which seemed a bit like an annoying character based on the original cast. I loved that this cast actually looked like overgrown kids as opposed to adults playing kids. There was a cute babyfaced thing to all the actors that made it work better than the clips I've seen from the original cast (or the first replacement cast on Broadway). I was actually convinced that they were kids in a spelling bee. Who just happened to have amazing voices.

Also, loved the audience participation parts, especially when it didn't seem to go in the show's way (or is that built in?)

The 25th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee The Musical - **** (4 stars out of 5)


Joe Reid said...

I actually saw Spelling Bee on its closing day a couple weeks ago, and I absolutely loved it. Our cast was brilliant, same as yours, it sounds like. Stanley Bahorek as Leaf Coneybear was the best, we all thought, but the girl who played Marcy Park sticks out in my mind too. And Jared Gertner as Barfee -- it's a great role, like you say, but watching clips of Dan Folger on Broadway, I liked Gertner way better.

"Also, loved the audience participation parts, especially when it didn't seem to go in the show's way (or is that built in?)"

After seeing you say this, I think it is built in, because: same thing. That shit is scripted tight for being such a freewheeling circus.

DL said...

I love Spelling Bee too (I sang "I'm Not That Smart" for an audition once -- I LOVE that song to no end). I really really ought to get down to Toronto to see it!