Musical (2005)

Musique: William Finn
Paroles: William Finn
Livret: Rachel Sheinkin
Production à la création:

The annual Spelling Bee competition in Putnam County is co-hosted by smarmy quizmaster and Vice-Principal, Douglas Panch and his vivacious honey-blonde “assistant”, Rona Perretti. Also in attendance is a “Comfort Counsellor” in case any of the teenagers cannot cope with being eliminated from the competition.
The six finalists are: Logainne Schwarzangrubenniere, who suffers a speech impediment and is invariably given words like “cystitis” and “sluices” (she is also the child of two gay Dads, hence her extended surname); loathsome know-it-all William Barfee, who spells his words using a “magic foot” technique, and comes to grief when his shoe sticks to the floor; poor Olive Ostrovsky whose mum has gone off to an ashram and whose Dad hasn’t turned up to watch, leaving her to create her own fantasy world of parental support; over-achieving Marcy Park who speaks six languages and isn’t allowed to cry; Chip Tolentino who loses concentration due to his erection every time he sees a girl in the audience; and Leaf Coneybear, who was the second runner-up in his school, but the two students ahead of him are unable to attend because the competition clashes with a Bat Mitzvah.
Despite a series of comical mishaps and over-eager parental interference, the competition finally comes to a satisfactory conclusion.

The musical begins with Rona Lisa 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 ("The Twenty-Fifth Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee"). Rona then welcomes the audience to the bee, and calls the selected audience spellers to the stage. She also calls up Olive Ostrovsky, who has not paid the entrance fee yet. When asked if she has a parent in the audience who can pay, Olive reveals that she has arrived by herself on the bus. Rona lets the fee slide for the moment. She then introduces the official word reader, Douglas Panch, who is returning from a five-year hiatus. Panch alludes to an incident five years ago, but declares that he is in a much better place now. Panch introduces the intimidating-looking comfort counselor, Mitch Mahoney, who is doing this as his court-mandated community service. Mahoney leads the spellers (now including the audience spellers) in the Pledge of Allegiance. Panch then explains the rules of the spelling bee ("The Spelling Rules / My Favorite Moment of the Bee 1")

The spelling bee begins, and as each non-audience speller is called forward, the audience learns about his or her background through flashbacks (with other characters in the flashbacks being played by the other spellers on stage, including simple nonspeaking roles played by the audience spellers, as guided by the actors). Olive is shown to be shy and reserved, a result of her uninterested parents — her mother is in India on a spiritual journey, and her father is missing the bee to work late, as usual. She has come to love spelling by reading the dictionary in her home ("My Friend, the Dictionary").

When Leaf Coneybear is called to spell the first time, it is revealed in a flashback that he came in third at his regional bee, but advanced to the county finals when the winner and runner-up had to attend the winner's Bat Mitzvah. His word is capybara, which he has no idea how to spell, but he ends up spelling it correctly while in a trance with an unknown cause.

When William Barfée is called to spell for the first time, Rona describes his unusual technique — he spells the word out on the ground with his foot to get a visual before speaking it. He demonstrates his confidence by returning to his seat immediately after spelling his word, and responding "I know" when Panch says that it is correct.

After a particularly easy word is given to an audience speller, the spellers erupt in "Pandemonium" and rant about how the element of luck makes the bee unfair.

When Leaf is called the second time, he receives acouchi, which he again does not know how to spell. He reminisces about how his family repeatedly calls him "dumb", a sentiment that has sunken in and that he has come to believe. Again, in a trance, he spells the word correctly ("I'm Not That Smart").

Barfée is called again, and this time sings about his technique ("Magic Foot").

Chip Tolentino then is called, but he is not paying attention. Rather, he is fantasizing about Leaf's attractive sister, Marigold, in the audience. He is snapped out of his daze, but is reluctant to take his turn because he has an erection that is showing. Under threat of disqualification, he takes his turn, but his thoughts (aided by the vaguely erotic word that he is given, tittup) distract him and he misspells the word. He catches himself misspelling the word, and backs up to save himself. Unfortunately for Chip, "if you start to spell a word you may start over, but the sequences of letters already spoken may not be changed," as the rules state. He begs for another chance, but Mitch eventually hauls him off ("Pandemonium (Reprise) / My Favorite Moment of the Bee 2").

At this point, the last audience speller is eliminated (he or she simply is called repeatedly in succession and given increasingly difficult words). Mitch sings a special serenade to this audience member for making it this far ("Prayer of the Comfort Counselor").

The remaining spellers (all of the normal cast spellers except for Chip) go on break, and Chip passes through the audience selling snacks, the punishment for being the first eliminated. He explains to the audience why he lost ("My Unfortunate Erection (Chip's Lament)"). Barfée taunts Chip, who throws a bag of peanuts M&M's at him. Allergic to peanuts, he has Olive pick them up for him. Olive and Barfée converse awkwardly, and Barfée begins to develop a crush on Olive.

With the break over, Rona introduces the finalists as they reenter. Last to be introduced is Logainne, who describes her two overbearing fathers and the stress that they put on her ("Woe is Me"). In a rapid montage sequence, the bee is shown progressing through many rounds, ending with Leaf’s elimination on the word chinchilla. He walks away head held high, having proven to himself, despite his elimination, that he is smart (I'm Not that Smart (Reprise)").

Marcy is called to spell, and Rona, who has been announcing factoids about the spellers all along, announces that Marcy speaks five languages. Marcy corrects her, saying, "I Speak Six Languages". She reveals more about her stressful life, where she is pushed to succeed in everything, which she does not enjoy. She is given the word camouflage, to which she sighs, "Dear Jesus, can't you come up with a harder word than that?" Jesus Christ then appears to her and teaches her that she is in control of her own life. Resolved to do what she wants, not what is expected of her, she intentionally misspells the word and exits excitedly ("Jesus / Pandemonium (Reprise #2)").

Olive's cellular telephone rings — it is her father, who she has been anxiously hoping would arrive. She is not allowed to answer the telephone, but she persuades Rona to answer the call for her. Bothered by the breach of the rules, Panch loses his temper and lashes out at Logainne, who is up to spell. Mitch wrestles Panch out, and in the ensuing chaos, Logainne is left alone in the gymnasium. One of her fathers jumps onstage to calm her down, and he pours some of his soda on the floor to make Barfée's foot stick and thus disrupt his technique.

With Panch calmed down, everyone returns to the gymnasium, and Olive is called to spell. She asks what her father had said, and is saddened to learn that he said he is running even later than planned. Her word is chimerical, and mirroring the word's definition, she imagines her parents’ being there and giving her the love that she always has wanted and yearned for ("The I Love You Song").

Barfée is called to spell next, and, when using his signature technique, his foot sticks. However, he is able to spell his word correctly anyway. Logainne is next, and she overcomplicates her word vug and misspells it ("Woe is Me (Reprise)"). Rona is excited that it has come down to the final two ("My Favorite Moment of the Bee 3").

The finals are shown quickly through another montage ("Second"), and Olive and Barfée continue to grow closer, in part by taunting Panch for his earlier outburst. Eventually, Olive misspells a word (elanguescence), giving Barfée a chance to win by spelling his next word correctly. He is torn between winning and letting his Olive win, but with Olive's encouragement, he spells his word correctly (Weltanschauung). Panch awards Barfée the trophy and two hundred dollar prize, and in a surprise act of charity, gives Olive a fictitious runner-up prize of twenty-five dollars from his own pocket — exactly the amount needed to cover her entrance fee. Olive congratulates and hugs Barfée, and each character reads their epilogue, a sentence or two about what they do in the years and decades after the main action of the play ends ("Finale").

The musical was based upon C-R-E-P-U-S-C-U-L-E, an original improvisational play created by Rebecca Feldman and performed by The Farm, a New-York-based improvisational comedy troupe. Sarah Saltzberg, Wendy Wasserstein's weekend nanny, was in the original production, and Wasserstein recommended that Finn see the show. Finn brought Rachel Sheinkin on board, and they worked together with Feldman to transform "C-R-E-P-U-S-C-U-L-E" into a scripted full-length musical.

Spelling Bee was workshopped and developed at the Barrington Stage Company (BSC), Massachusetts, where Julianne Boyd is the Artistic Director, in two different stages. In February 2004, a workshop was done in which a first act and parts of a second act were created – this stage of the process was directed by Michael Barakiva and Feldman. The script was fleshed out and the show was given a fuller production in July 2004, directed by Feldman and Michael Unger. Dan Knechtges choreographed the workshop, summer productions, and the Broadway production. Dana Harrel produced both productions as the Producer of Stage II at BSC. Several cast members, Dan Fogler, Jay Reiss, and Sarah Saltzberg remained from C-R-E-P-U-S-C-U-L-E. Robb Sapp (later replaced by Jose Llana when Sapp moved on to Wicked), Dashiell Eaves (replaced by Derrick Baskin), Jesse Tyler Ferguson, Celia Keenan-Bolger (joined as Olive Ostrovsky in the summer), Lisa Howard, and Deborah S. Craig were added to the cast, and a full script was created.

The musical moved Off-Broadway to the Second Stage Theatre, opening on January 11, 2005 in previews, officially on February 7, 2005, and closed on March 20, 2005,[2] where it enjoyed critical and box-office success.

Spelling Bee premiered on Broadway at the Circle in the Square Theatre on April 15, 2005 and closed on January 20, 2008 after 1,136 performances.[3] The director was James Lapine and the choreographer Dan Knechtges. The show won Tony Awards for Best Book (Rachel Sheinkin) and Best Featured Actor (Dan Fogler).

"The Twenty-Fifth Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee" – Company
"The Spelling Rules"/"My Favorite Moment of the Bee" – Rona and Company
"My Friend, the Dictionary" – Olive and Company
"The First Goodbye" – Panch and Spellers
"Pandemonium" – Panch, Spellers and Mitch
"I'm Not That Smart" – Leaf, Spellers and Panch
"The Second Goodbye" – Panch and Spellers
"Magic Foot" – Barfée, Rona and Company
"Pandemonium (Reprise)"/"My Favorite Moment of the Bee (Reprise)" – Rona and Company
"Why We Like Spelling" – Spellers
"Prayer of the Comfort Counselor" – Mitch, Panch and Spellers
"My Unfortunate Erection (Chip's Lament)" – Chip
"Woe is Me" – Logainne, Carl, Dan and Company
"I'm Not That Smart (Reprise)" – Leaf
"I Speak Six Languages" – Marcy, Rona and Girls
"The I Love You Song" – Olive, Olive's Parents, and Panch
"Woe is Me (Reprise)" – Logainne and Mitch
"My Favorite Moment of the Bee (Reprise)"/"Second" – Rona, Panch, Barfée, Olive and Company
"Finale" – Rona and Company
"The Last Goodbye" – Company

Major characters
Vice Principal Douglas Panch: After five years' absence from the Bee, Panch returns as judge. There was an "incident" at the Twentieth Annual Bee, but he claims to be in "a better place" now, thanks to a high-fiber diet and Jungian analysis. He is infatuated with Rona Lisa Peretti, but she does not return his affections.
Rona Lisa Peretti: The number-one realtor in Putnam County, a former Putnam County Spelling Bee Champion herself, and returning moderator. She is a sweet woman who loves children, but she can be very stern when it comes to dealing with Vice Principal Panch, who has feelings for her that she most likely does not return. It is implied that she sees much of herself in Olive Ostrovsky. Her favorite moment of the Bee is in the minutes before it starts, when all the children are filled with the joy of competition, before they begin to resent each other. She later declares that she likes how everyone has an equal chance of winning, citing as an example that last year's winner can be this year's loser and vice versa. Another favorite moment is when the last winners go head to head for the top spot because it is so suspenseful and filled with hope. Ms. Peretti herself won the Third Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee by spelling "syzygy," which she recounts at the very beginning of the opening number.
Olive Ostrovsky: A young newcomer to competitive spelling. Her mother is in an ashram in India, and her father is working late, as usual, but he is trying to come sometime during the bee. She made friends with her dictionary at a very young age, helping her to make it to the competition.
William Barfée: A Putnam County Spelling Bee finalist last year, he was eliminated because of an allergic reaction to peanuts. His famous “Magic Foot” method of spelling has boosted him to spelling glory, even though he only has one working nostril and a touchy personality. He has an often-mispronounced last name: it is Bar-FAY, not BARF-ee ("there's an accent aigu," he explains with some hostility). He develops a crush on Olive.
Logainne SchwartzandGrubenierre: Logainne is the youngest and most politically aware speller, often making comments about current political figures, with two overbearing homosexual fathers. She is somewhat of a neat freak, speaks with a lisp, and will be back next year.
Marcy Park: A recent transfer from Virginia, Marcy placed ninth in last year’s nationals. She speaks six languages, is a member of all-American hockey, a championship rugby player, plays Chopin and Mozart on multiple instruments, sleeps only three hours a night, hides in the bathroom cabinet, and is getting very tired of always winning. She is the poster child for the Over-Achieving Asian, and attends a Catholic school called "Our Lady of Intermittent Sorrows." She is also not allowed to cry.
Leaf Coneybear: A homeschooler and the second runner-up in his district, Leaf gets into the competition on a lark: the winner and first runner-up had to go to the winner’s Bat Mitzvah. Leaf comes from a large family of former hippies and makes his own clothes. He spells words correctly while in a trance. In his song, "I'm Not That Smart", he sings that his family thinks he is "not that smart," but he insinuates that he is merely easily distracted. Most of the words that he is assigned are South American rodents with amusing names.
Charlito "Chip" Tolentino ("Tripp Barrington" in the original workshop, "Isaac 'Chip' Berkowitz" in the Chicago production): A boy scout and champion of the Twenty-Fourth Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee, he returns to defend his title. Relatively social and athletic (he plays little league and is a boy scout), Chip expects things to come easily but he finds puberty hitting at an inopportune moment.
Mitch Mahoney: The Official Comfort Counselor. An ex-convict, Mitch is performing his community service with the Bee, and hands out juice boxes to losing students.
Three or four spellers from the audience: Audience members are encouraged to sign up to participate before the show, and several are chosen to spell words on stage. In touring productions, local celebrities are sometimes selected.

Minor characters (the cast doubles these)
Carl Grubenierre: One of SchwartzandGrubenierre’s fathers; he has set his heart on his little girl winning the Bee, no matter what he has to do, including sabotaging William’s foot. Played by the actor who plays Leaf.
Dan Schwartz: SchwartzandGrubenierre’s other father; he is slightly less insane than Carl but is still intent on his daughter winning the Bee. Played by the actor who plays Mitch.
Leaf's Dad: Doubtful and finds his son annoying and unintelligent. Played by the actor who plays Will Barfée.
Leaf’s Mom: Overprotective and doubtful of her son’s abilities to stand up to the competition. Played by the actress who plays Logainne.
Leaf’s Siblings: Marigold, Brooke, Pinecone, Landscape, Raisin, and Paul: Not very confident of Leaf’s abilities. Played by the actors who play Olive, Marcy, Chip, and the volunteer spellers.
Olive’s Mom and Dad: She is in India, he is working late, but they appear in Olive’s imagination to encourage her and tell her they love her. Played by the actors who play Miss Peretti and Mitch.
Jesus Christ: Appears to Marcy in a moment of crisis. Played by the actor who plays Chip. When this actor is Asian (as he has been in the Boston, New York and San Francisco productions), a line to that effect is added.

Aucun dossier informatif complémentaire concernant 25th annual Putnam County Spelling Bee (The)

Aucun dossier informatif complémentaire concernant 25th annual Putnam County Spelling Bee (The)

Version 1

25th annual Putnam County Spelling Bee (2005-01-Second Stage Theatre-Off Broadway)

Type de série: Original
Théâtre: Second Stage Theatre (Broadway (Off) - Etats-Unis)
Durée : 2 mois 1 semaine
Nombre :
Première Preview : Inconnu
Première: 11 January 2005
Dernière: 20 March 2005
Mise en scène : James Lapine
Chorégraphie : Dan Knechtges
Producteur :
Star(s) :
Avec: Mitch Mahoney ... Derrick Baskin / Marcy Park ... Deborah S. Craig / Leaf Coneybear ... Jesse Tyler Ferguson / William Barfee ... Dan Fogler / Rona Lisa Peretti ... Lisa Howard / Olive Ostrovsky ... Celia Keenan-Bolger / Chip Tolentino ... Jose Llana / Douglas Panch ... Jay Reiss

Version 2

25th annual Putnam County Spelling Bee (2005-04-Circle in the Square Theatre- Broadway)

Type de série: Original Broadway
Théâtre: Circle in the Square Theatre (Broadway - Etats-Unis)
Durée : 2 ans 8 mois 3 semaines
Nombre : 1136 représentations
Première Preview : 15 April 2005
Première: 02 May 2005
Dernière: 20 January 2008
Mise en scène : James Lapine
Chorégraphie : Dan Knechtges
Producteur :
Star(s) :
Avec: Mitch Mahoney ... Derrick Baskin / Marcy Park ... Deborah S. Craig / Leaf Coneybear ... Jesse Tyler Ferguson / William Barfee ... Dan Fogler / Rona Lisa Peretti ... Lisa Howard / Olive Ostrovsky ... Celia Keenan-Bolger / Chip Tolentino ... Jose Llana / Douglas Panch ... Jay Reiss / Logainne Schwartzandgrubenierre ... Sarah Saltzberg
Commentaires : Directed by James Lapine, it was nominated for six Tony Awards and won two, including Best Book and Best Featured Actor.

Version 3

25th annual Putnam County Spelling Bee (2011-02-Donmar Warehouse-London)

Type de série: Original London
Théâtre: Donmar Warehouse (Londres - Angleterre)
Durée : 1 mois 1 semaine
Nombre :
Première Preview : 11 February 2011
Première: 21 February 2011
Dernière: 02 April 2011
Mise en scène : Jamie Lloyd
Chorégraphie : Ann Yee
Producteur :
Star(s) :
Avec: Steve Pemberton (Vice Principal Douglas Panch), Chris Carswell (Leaf Coneybear/Carl Dad), David Fynn (William Barfee), Hayley Gallivan (Olive Ostrovsky), Harry Hepple (Chip Tolentino/Jesus), Katherine Kingsley (Rona Lisa Perretti/ Olive's Mum), Maria Lawson (Marcy Park), Ako Mitchell (Mitch Mahoney/Dan Dad/Olive's Dad), Iris Roberts (Logainne Schwatzandgrubenniere)
Commentaires : An unusual aspect of the show is that four real audience members are invited on stage to compete in the spelling bee alongside the six young characters. Despite its success in the USA, most London critics were not impressed.
Presse : "Given the Donmar's exemplary musical track record, it is a bit of a shock to find them importing this flimsy, vacuous diversion...the highly forgettable songs seem to be imposed on the action rather than arising organically from it and many of the jokes are just as arbitrary."
Michael Billington for The Guardian

"An endearing small-scale musical."
Henry Hitchings for The Evening Standard

"This show is excellent."
Ian Shuttleworth for The Financial Times

"A one-joke show that’s slightly over-extended and too frequently repeated. But it’s also bright, polished and fun ."
Mark Shenton for The Stage

"Director Jamie Lloyd’s decision to stage this glib, candy-floss confection seems unfathomable... most of the characters are little more than glib stereotypes and the show’s mixture of satire and insufferable whimsy struck me as nauseating."
Charles Spencer for The Daily Telegraph

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