Shattuck-St. Mary’s spring musical, The 25th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee, was a hilariously thoughtful, harmonious combination of talent, wit, and passion. It all starts with a chipper real estate agent (Rona Lisa Peretti, played by Lisa Lilyerd ’19) reliving her own win of the famous competition. Then, a mismatched ensemble of children from a myriad of backgrounds sign in to the competition, varying from the All-American Boy Scout competing as returning champion (Chip Tolentino, played by Brewer Williams ’22) to a homeschooled, eccentric runt of the family litter (Leaf Coneybear, played by Emmett Furlong ’23).
The contestants have all worked tremendously hard to be standing upon the stage, competing for the coveted gold trophy, but they were not the only ones stepping up to the mic to gain success. This musical involved audience volunteers, including the Canadian sweetheart Kate Reilly and the world traveler, Mr. Garlinski. The entire musical was held in the setting of the spelling bee, but each time the competitor walked up to the microphone, the host, played by Vocal Performance Program member Lisa Lilyerd ’19, would reveal a facet of their past, including the fact that a contestant has two gay dads and feels intense pressure to perform (“Schwartzy” ShwartzandGrubeniere, played by Abbi Gross ’21). One does not have parents to come home to (Olive Ostrovsky, played by Sophie Williams ’19), and another believes his magic foot to be the source of his excellent spelling abilities (William Barfee, played by Ben Bian ’19). But all of the tidbits were important and creative, intertwining sentiment with factoids.
Lisa Lilyerd ’19 shares, “This was the best musical I have participated in, in all of my five years at Shattuck. Musicals tend to become stagnant for the actors or actresses after some time, but not this one. This musical was ever-changing, even in the midst of a show, and it kept me interested and on my toes. It’s a role and a musical I will forever be grateful for.”