Buzzing, buzzy, singing bees: Upper school musical cast gives preview of ‘The 25th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee’


Photo credit: Chloe Richards

The musical cast sings a song to the upper school in the Dining Hall. The show will make its debut Dec. 8.

Instead of the usual announcements and community connections that make up the weekly upper school meetings, this Wednesday morning’s meeting was filled with singing and acting. Cast members from the upcoming upper school musical, “The 25th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee,” gave grades nine through 12 a preview of the production.

The musical is a comedy about six children competing in a spelling bee, which is run and judged by three adults. The original musical, created by playwright Rachel Sheinkin and lyricist William Finn, won a Tony Award for Best Book of a Musical in 2005 during its Broadway run. 

The 25-minute performance included three songs, dancing and audience interaction. The cast invited English teacher James Russo and three upper school students to join the spelling bee. One of these students was senior Natalie Grant, who described going up on stage with the cast as “really fun.” 

“It was cool to get to see it up close and personal,” she said. “People came up to me all day after and they were like, ‘That looked so fun,’ so I think people enjoyed the engaging aspect.”

Senior Juliet Youssef, who watched the preview, said that she was “in awe” of the actors’ talent.

“I loved seeing my friends perform to the best of their ability and I loved that the whole upper school was supporting,” she said. “Theatre can take you into a magical world.”

Assistant Director Madison Tyler (’19) expressed pride in how much the cast has grown since the musical began in September. 

“They’re doing really great,” Tyler said. “At first we just had to learn the music and the lines and they could add little quirks to their characters.”

New students to Archer’s performing arts program, sophomore Addison Lee and freshman Avery Fox, found their first time experience to be enjoyable.

“When you’re in the ensemble, you don’t do as much as a cast member, but you get to have a lot of fun on stage and backstage,” Lee said. 

The cast will be performing the musical at the Miles Memorial Playhouse in Santa Monica.

“I love theatre,” Fox said. “I’m excited for this musical to be shown to everybody.”

“The 25th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee” will be performed at 2:00 p.m. and 6:30 p.m. on Saturday, Dec. 8 and at 2:00 p.m. on Sunday, Dec. 9. The show stars Avery Fox (’22), Tove Jegeus (’21), Bess Frierson (’22), Ruby Ehrlich (’19), Shira Goldstein (’19), Willow Stein (’22), Livia Blum (’19) and Caroline Ediger (’19). Tickets are available for $20.00 each on