"Bee" Keeps Audience Involved & Laughing

      The 25th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee has captivated audiences for the last decade. Judging from the applause the show received on opening night at the Poplar Pike Playhouse, its anticipated run at the Germantown High School theatre will provide all the fun and laughter that made this Tony winner a Broadway success.

     “All of the actors were excellent, quality – as always – was incredible,” said Robert Thomas, who brought his entire family to the show’s Thursday debut. “There were a lot of really great vocalists tonight!”

     The musical comedy revolves around a unique group of middle school students competing in the “coveted” Putnam County Spelling Bee. On the line are a $200 savings bond, countywide fame and a chance to compete in the national bee. The spellers all have their own quirks and charms. Each oddball also has a different story to offer the audience.

     “Every single character was special in some sort of way, and it kind of made each character a lead role,” said Jeremy Waldrip, a frequent patron of the PPP.

     However, “Spelling Bee’s” unique appeal that attracts audiences is much more than just the characters. Something that separates this show from many other musicals is the level of audience participation. Each night, volunteers from the audience are selected to be a part of the spelling bee.

     “It was fun,” said Thomas, who volunteered as an audience speller on opening night. “It’s kind of strange not knowing what to expect at first, but I loved that the cast was so supportive and it was a great way for me to get involved in the show.”

     While the Broadway version of the show included some edgy humor, the Playhouse’s production promises to entertain audiences of any age.

     “Well, it captured my 3 ½ year-old son’s attention throughout the show,” said Blake Waddell. “So I think everyone will enjoy this show.”

     The 25th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee runs at the Poplar Pike Playhouse through October 25. Tickets can be purchased online at ppp.org, by calling the box office at (901) 755-7775 or by visiting the box office on the campus of Germantown High School.

     The corporate sponsor for this production is Germantown Association, Inc.

     For coupon codes, the latest updates and fun extras from the cast and crew follow the Poplar Pike Playhouse on Facebook and Twitter (@ppptheatre).

     The cast of The 25th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee includes Sydney Armstrong, Hayley Bardos, Kaylynn Coulter, Kennedy Harris, Raneem Imam, Dani Jaramillo, Jackie Kamin, Maclean Mayers, Arafat Quran, Jasmine Saulsberry and Ben Taylor. Kirie Walz is the director.

     The Poplar Pike Playhouse at Germantown High School presents a full season of theatrical productions from its 300-seat on-campus theatre facility. Since its inception in 1976, the PPP has presented more than 100 theatrical shows viewed by hundreds of thousands of patrons. The yearly roster of events includes two mainstage shows, several acting festivals and additional workshop productions. Students not only perform onstage, but are responsible for the technical and business aspects of operating this community theatre. Allison Long is the chair of the Germantown High School Creative and Performing Arts Department. Kirie Walz is the PPP managing director. Ashleigh Williams is the artistic director. The 2014-2015 student company managers are Arafat Quran and Taylor Shennett.