Back in 2006 I took 2 trips to New York City. My aunt Kate was living there at the time so it made everything more affordable. One of the shows I saw during those trips was The 25th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee. I found a good deal on the tickets and went into it totally blind. Fortunately, my risk paid off and we had a great time with a wild, irreverent and funny show.
Speed up to 2021 and a theater called The Kensington Theater is putting on the Spelling Bee, and I had a blast revisiting again. I had never been to this theater before but it has evidently been around for a long time. Not sure how I missed it! My friend Jen said she’s been to a ton of shows there so I definitely have found a great new place to see theater. It’s housed in the theater at the Early Light Academy in South Jordan, Utah.
If you can’t tell by the title Spelling Bee is about a spelling bee with adults playing all the child parts. I forgot but one unique trait of the show is the audience involvement. This rendition was especially funny because one of the audience members spelled his words right 3 times. You could tell it threw the hosts off and their improv was very funny. I also laugh at the ‘use the word in a sentence’ and ‘definitions’ given the spellers especially when Leaf gets 2 South American rodents in a row. LOL
My favorite songs of the show are ‘My Friend, the Dictionary’ and the ‘I Love You Song’. They are both sung by Olive so I guess she is my favorite character. Chip is the funniest character but be forewarned the version of his song is made family-friendly here, so if you see it on Broadway it might be a bit of a shock.
Spelling Bee is a show that you really have to see to appreciate. The cast recording is fun but it doesn’t capture the improv and comedy of the actual show. This version is playing at the Kensington until the 15th so I recommend checking it out. It’s also only a low $14 for a ticket so a win-win.
All the production qualities were first rate in this, and I especially enjoyed the live band playing.
8 out of 10