RV Dramatics presents “The 25th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee”

The comedy production incorporated COVID-safe regulations and still got a lot of laughs


Photo courtesy of Mr. Maniglia

The cast of “The 25th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee”

Dana Taylor, Arts & Culture Writer

There is no doubt that RV’s performing arts department has had a difficult time with safely continuing productions in the face of COVID-19. Many even feared that the performing arts department would be totally benched for this year. Despite the hurdles, Red Devil Dramatics has prevailed in doing both the school play and musical. 

In Red Devil Dramatics’ production of “The 25th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee,” six students aspire to be spelling bee champions, along with three audience members who are called up to participate in the event. Amongst the heat of the competition, the audience gets a glimpse into the lives and struggles of the competitors. And at the end, an unlikely friendship between the Spelling Bee winner and runner-up forms. 

“There’s a moment in the first number where they take their masks off, and they’re behind their booths,” said Mr. Michael Pliskin, director of “The 25th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee,” when asked about which change he needed to make under COVID-19 that he is most proud of. “The idea around the booths allows audience members to participate and allows students and actors to take their masks off while still following all the guidelines, which is what I think is the most brilliant thing in the production.” 

The booths were indeed an interesting and fun addition to the musical. They also allowed for props to be added to the choreography, but did so without sacrificing efficiency and flow in the movements. The plastic covers around the booths let the audience members see the expressive faces of the actors and actresses. Additionally, COVID-friendly props like temperature checkers and disinfectant spray were a charming touch. 

You may have gone into this thinking you were going to see a simple musical about a children’s competition, but this was not your average spelling bee. The production was comedy-filled; I enjoyed the rather loose leash on the risqué jokes and puns made. If I wasn’t cackling at Brendan Collins’ improvised jokes, I was laughing at the subliminal and not-so-subliminal erection skit. I especially enjoyed Collins’ addition of the “sheesh” meme that’s been going around, which had audience members responding immediately.

Though I thoroughly enjoyed the comedy that was packed into the musical, it got in the way of the plot at times. Because the storyline was so comedic, it lacked in setting up suspense and drama for the final two contestants. By the time the last few words needed spelling, I realized that I was distracted from the fact that the audience was supposed to be anticipating the winner of the spelling bee.

All in all, “The 25th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee” was a success, and I hope you had the opportunity to see the musical. Congratulations to Mr. Pliskin, the actors, actresses, stage crew, and everyone else involved on a successful production in a crazy year.