Community Theater and DHS Team Up for Broadway Musical

The Broadway musical “The 25th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee” opens Friday.

Not to be confused with an actual spelling bee, “The 25th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee” is an original musical. The drama unfolds as six middle school tweens not only deal with difficult and possibly made-up words, but also overcome their own challenges throughout.

Winner of the Tony and the Drama Desk Award for Best Book in 2005, the musical that opened on Broadway, the play opens March 18 at CVIC Hall.

“With a fast-paced, wildly funny and touching book by Rachel Sheinkin and a truly fresh and vibrant score by William Finn, This Bee is an unforgettable experience,” Music Theater International said of the musical.

Since the play features high school students, Carson Valley Community Theater and the Douglas High School Theater Department wanted the musical to be as accurate as possible and partnered for the production.

“We thought a collaboration would be great,” said Carson Valley Community Theater Secretary Diana Jones. “This show is basically about a spelling bee for kids and it made sense to do it with high school.

Jones said the high school was unable to put on the musical on its own for many reasons, one being space.

“They couldn’t do the show on their own for a number of reasons and we can, so it worked really well for both groups,” she said.

High school students have performed with the theater company on projects in the past, including “You’re a Good Man, Charlie Brown,” in 2017, and the theater has supported the high school with financial donations, loaning items and props and teaching them set building and more, but the upcoming musical is the first collaborative production between the two.

“When I was asked if I would work with them, I wanted to do this particular musical,” said Amy Sando, a theater and English teacher at Douglas High School, whom she had loved for several years.

“I fell in love with this musical the first time I saw it and every time after,” Sando said. “There are so many emotions in her.”

Both theaters look forward to working together and bringing the show to the community.

Meet “The 25th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee Casting

• Athena Gribbin is a junior at Douglas High School playing Olive Osrtovsky in the musical. Gribbin is from Nevada and a second-generation American on her mother’s side. Her grandmother was born in Belfast, Ireland, and emigrated to the United States when she was six years old. Her family has been residents of Carson Valley since 1950. Gribbin’s artistic background includes Douglas High School Dynamics, DHS Marching Band, and she enjoys developing her artistic skills in ceramics and soldering. She plans to attend NUR after high school to earn a business degree and own her own welding manufacturing business. It’s her first theatrical adventure and she’s so excited to be a part of it.

• Jewely Palmer is a sophomore at Douglas High School and plays Marcy Park. Palmer grew up in Gardnerville, but her family is from the Netherlands. She enjoys skiing, writing her own songs and playing the Kalimba.

• Ryan Stockton portrays Leaf Coneybear in the musical. Stockton began performing in 2017 as part of the Imagination Syndicate, a Carson City theater group. He became addicted to acting, especially musicals, performing on the set of “Beauty and the Beast”, as Ryan in “A Christmas Chaos”, as Bela Zangler in “Crazy for You” and on the set of “Matilda”. He also enjoys tap dancing and hopes to one day lead a musical.

• Zephyr Delgado is in second year at Douglas High School. He loves his family, his friends and video games. He has a passion for music and singing and felt it was always a natural talent for him. Now, with the launch of this play, he thinks it could open up new avenues for him in the realm of drama. Delgrado plays Chip in the musical.

• Amara Brown is a senior at Douglas High School and plays Logainne Schwartzandgrueniere in the musical. Brown was born and raised in Carson Valley. Music has been a passion for her since childhood, but this production will be her entry into the world of musical theatre. She has been in a choir since sixth grade and plans to expand her musical experience in middle school. She is thrilled to participate in “The 25th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee”.

• Jennifer Keim plays Rona Lisa Perretti in the musical. Keim is a busy working mother and wife. She graduated from Douglas High School in 1998 where she participated in theatre. She is delighted to have the opportunity to dive back into it after 20 years.