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Want a night of laughter? Attend Sumter Little Theatre's 'Putnam County Spelling Bee'

BY JANE C0LLINS
Special to The Sumter Item
Posted 10/21/19

Sumter Little Theatre tries hard to offer a variety of play genres and emotional opportunities - often challenging, provocative, lighthearted and humorous. The current play "The 25th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee" goes beyond funny. It is a …

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Want a night of laughter? Attend Sumter Little Theatre's 'Putnam County Spelling Bee'

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Sumter Little Theatre tries hard to offer a variety of play genres and emotional opportunities - often challenging, provocative, lighthearted and humorous. The current play "The 25th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee" goes beyond funny. It is a deliciously campy look at a broad spectrum of stereotypical preadolescents (don't be too particular about their ages because their actions defy any definition).

Every "Spelling Bee" character deserves to be on that stage. The range of acting is carefully exaggerated and portrayed. This review is purposely non-specific because there are so many comical twists and turns it would be terrible to disclose the impact of the very successful direction and acting.

Todd Warrick (Chip Tolentino) escalates his characters to a hyper level that is almost unreal. His performance is over the top in the most calculatingly humorous way. Colby Rearden (Leaf Coneybear) has found his acting niche in his wildly audacious character. Adrian Rios (William Barfee) has a magic foot that would steal the show except everything else is so well done. The three girls are no less talented. Cierra Stewart (Olive Ostrovsky) proves once again that she has mastered the art of acting, characterization and voice. Annah Beck (Marcy Park) provides an unexpected character reversal and Persephone Litchfield (Logainne Schwartzandgrubienniere - really!) gives strikingly creative movements to her character. Ann Floyd plays Mitch Mahoney, an ex-con doing community service by bolstering the contestants when they lose and gives her performance gusto, guts and great tattoos and a too-true song about the bumps in life. Alyssa Gibb's (Rona Lisa Perretti) singing voice adds another competent level to the play as does Rick Norred's (Assistant Principal Panch) portrayal.

Choreographer Libby Singleton underscores the singing with just the right touch of movement and wit. Sylvia Pickell's costumes are visually appropriate. Linda Beck and her musicians are a nice balance, not overpowering the singers. Both director Eric Bultman and assistant director Bri Gray offer the audience an evening of undeniable fun and frivolity. If you choose to find deeper meanings, you may do so; but for the most part "The 25th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee" is an evening to enjoy great laughter and antics.

The play opened Thursday and runs Oct. 24-27 at 8 p.m., Sunday matinee is at 3 p.m. Tickets are $25 for adults, $20 for seniors, students and military. Season ticket holders are admitted at no additional charge. For more information, contact Sumter Little Theatre, 14 Mood Ave., at (803) 775-2150 or at www.sumterlittletheater.com.