We all love to win. But alas as the poet said ‘you can’t always get what you want’. The 25th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee, perhaps the worlds longest name for a musical, is a story about not meeting expectations and growing through it. The 25th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee did not meet my expectations, it far surpassed it. MKEC productions have managed to take this rather simple musical and add refinery to it.
The production stars colourful costumes, the highlight of whom are the whimsical wigs, and a matching set that is slightly reminiscent of Mathilda. The work also features projections and live streaming of certain moments in the play. Whilst I found the live streaming unnecessary the projections, showcasing correct spelling of words from the play, were enjoyable and a great addition to the suspense once the characters start attempting to spell ever longer and more difficult words. Added to all of this is also audience participation which normally I despise as it is often both tacky and terrifying for the audience. This particular case of audience participation was however handled very well, volunteers were prepped beforehand, after consenting to take part, so it only added to the enjoyment of the piece.
The 9 strong ensemble does a fantastic job and it is impossible to pick anyone out of the crowd, they were all spectacular. It is rare to witness an ensemble that is so fine-tuned and polished as is the case with this production. Although it is perhaps not the most thought-provoking musical it is incredibly polished and an immense bag of fun.