Singing into Musical Season

No matter how you spell it, the musical at AHS has begun!

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Eleanor McCalla

Junior Katie Birge will play Marcie in “The 25th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee” musical.

Eleanor McCalla

As fall activities take full swing at AHS, so too begins a favorite tradition among participants and spectators alike: the fall musical. This year’s musical is called The 25th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee. It will be directed by band teacher Jarrod O’Donnell, and choir teacher Evan Adamon.

The 25th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee first premiered on Broadway in 2005. It is a musical comedy with music and lyrics by William Finn. It takes the audience into the fictional Putnam Valley Middle School during a spelling bee. The musical has nine lead roles, six of which are a ragtag group of young students who each have different motives for wanting to win the bee. The remaining three roles are the adults who run the show. After “a ton” of people auditioned at AHS, however, Adamon and O’Donnell stretched the cast list to fifteen roles.

In the past, the musical was always an endeavor undertaken in the spring. However, in the fall of 2019, many factors – such as a new choir teacher and speech and debate competition schedules – contributed to the switching of the musical and the play. Now, the musical takes place in the fall, and the play happens in the spring. Convenient though it may be for the schedules, the musical beginning mere weeks after the beginning of the school year posed challenges of its own.

The 2021-22 school year marks Adamon’s first year at AHS. Therefore, he had little idea what to expect when it came to the musical. “Coming in for me, it was really hard to pick a show, because I didn’t know the kids,” he said. “I didn’t know what had been done in the past – I didn’t know anything. So, it was suggested to me that we pick a smaller musical because apparently there hadn’t been many people to audition in the past.” However, after seeing the audition turnouts for this year, Adamon said, “next year, I definitely want to pick a bigger musical so more people can be involved.”

Junior Katie Birge has been in the musical for the past two years and plans to participate next year, too. This is her first high school musical with a supporting role, an “all-business” kid named Marcy Park. “I have high hopes for this year’s musical,” Birge said. “We read over the script… and it was hilarious.” She is excited to get into practice, and for the performances. “I’m sure the audience will love it,” she said.

Scripts for the fall musical are now in the hands of the cast. (Eleanor McCalla)

Similarly, The 25th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee marks sophomore Mary McCurdy’s second year as stage director for the musical. They have participated in a few community musicals before through Prairie Fire Children’s Theater, but last year’s production of “Addams Family” was their first time “behind the scenes.” “I’m really looking forward to learning more about lights and sound this year,” they said. “I will definitely use the organization skills and communication skills I learned from this in my future.”

The performances for The 25th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee will take place on November 12, 13, and 14, at 7:30 p.m. and 2:30 p.m., respectively. They will be held in the Atlantic High School Auditorium. The musical showcases the immensely talented singers, actors, crew members, lights and sound technicians, and directors within AHS. It involves audience participation, catchy songs, and side-splittingly funny humor. Come see the musical in November and support the hard work of all the students and staff contributing to making this musical a spectacular one!