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Hilarious and Winning “Spelling Bee” is Encore’s best… February 5, 2010

Posted by ronannarbor in Entertainment, musical theater, Theatre.
Tags: , , ,

“The 25th Annual Putnum County Spelling Bee”, which opened tonight at the Encore Musical Theatre Company in Dexter is simply their best production to date.

The 25th Annual company: Chris Shewchenko, Christine Bunuan, Jeffreu James BinneySteve DeBruyne, Thalia Schramm, Sonja Marquis, Colleen Elizabeth Meyer, Evan Williams, Elizabeth Jaffe, Tobin Hissong

The seam between professional and amateur performers is non-existant here, and the ensemble company is top-notch without a weak link in the bunch. Breezily paced at an hour and forty-five minutes without an intermission by director Dan Cooney and choreographer Barbara F. Cullen, the show is just what the doctor ordered for a cold Michigan winter’s night (though you might consider leaving the kiddies at home for this one — while this is about kids in a spelling bee, it’s strictly in an adult entertainment vein.)

As the evening progresses, you will find yourself rooting for your favorites. Some of them might even be your family or business associates, since there are 4 audience volunteers per performance who join in the fun on-stage and get eliminated one by one (its guaranteed!)  Perhaps it will be Chip (audience favorite and charming Steve DeBruyne), or Logainne (a terrific Liz Jaffe). Maybe you’ll like no-nonsense Marcy (Christine Bunuan) or new-comer Olive (Thalia Schramm in another great performance at Encore). But maybe you go more for the colorful types: Coneybear (a stunning performance from Evan Williams) or magic-footed William Barfee (Jeffrey James Binnay).  The cast is rounded out by sure performances by the “adults”, Colleen Meyer, Tobin Hissong, Chris Shewchenko, and Sonja Marquis.

There is a dandy set by Toni Auletti, and the orchestra sounds great under the capable direction of CT Hollis.

Throw in a hilarious book by Rachel Sheinkin, great lyrics and passable music by William Finn, and a quirky and funny cast, and you have a show that is literally, at times, side-splitting hysterical. There’s a reason this show won a handful of Tony Awards a few years ago. Encore kept me laughing for the entire evening, and that is what this show is all about. Rate this 4 out of 4 stars.

Grab your tickets while you can at theencoretheatre.org, or by phone at 734-268-6200.  The show runs through February 21st.


1. William Stutts, Jr. - February 5, 2010

Excelling at Spelling Bee.

I went to see the opening night of “The 25the Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee” at the The Encore Musical Theatre Company and agree that this is the best show in the 1 year existence of the company. It was a Broadway caliber production. The show is EXTREMELY FUNNY but there is more working in this show. You get chances to see what the kids are going through in their own lives and you see a little bit of what you may have gone through as a child.

The community of Dexter and Washtenaw County that has embraced the Encore in the all the shows that they have done but I hope there are not people not wanting to see the show because they just don’t know the show. Granted, I love seeing all the known and familiar war horses and it does put people in the seats but I think it is more important to support the new and not so known titles so they can become names people know.

So I say, RUN!!! Do not walk to see this incredible production!!!

Thank you

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