The 25th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee allowed audience members to relive their elementary grade school days.
Texas State’s department of theater and dance showcased the Tony Award-winning musical, The 25th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee, Feb. 16-21 in the Patti Strickel Harrison Theatre.
Neil Patrick Stewart, director, said he is happy with the outcome of the show.
“It’s been a lot of fun,” Stewart said. “I am very proud and happy with every single cast and crew member and with the way they have the presented the show each night.”
The musical is known for being an interactive improv show, literally pulling audience members out of their seats.
“That’s a part of the show,” Stewart said. “And it pegs for an interesting night, because you can’t really know what to expect. Cast has to react to who they’re working with every night.”
The comedic musical brought a smile to audience members as they witnessed other bystanders as the characters.
Alisa Rocio, New Braunfels resident, said she could envision her elementary class in all of the characters.
“I had been dying to see this show since my roommate auditioned for it in New York,” Rocio said. “It’s just so cute and fun, every character kind of represents the different kid in grade school. The weird one. The smart one. The funny one. It’s great.”
Stewart said the most consistent feedback he has received is audience members being able to relate to the characters.
“Something I’ve found interesting is that everyone has found their spirit animal in the cast; they’re like, ‘Oh, I’m kind of like this one,’ or, ‘I’m totally the one like this,’ so that’s been really fun to hear,” Stewart said.
The show was also brought to life by adding a few pop culture influences, like including a hover board as a prop and “the whip” in one of the solo dances.
“It was so funny,” Rocio said. “I love when shows do that, because it’s almost an inside joke between audience members and the director.”
Janet Rocio, New Braunfels resident, said she appreciated the whimsical set design.
“I thought it was really neat how the set went through the whole theater,” Janet Rocio said. “Like the banners through the auditorium, because that’s exactly what they do at schools and it’s so colorful.”
Stewart said the interaction of the show allows more room for flexibility and spontaneity between his actors.
“There’s actually a philosophy out there about when the work stops,” Stewart said “Some people think of the show as literally frozen (because) when the show opens you don’t make any changes, which can be good because there’s consistency, but this show is already different every night because of how interactive it is.”
Joseph Patron, San Marcos resident, said it was interesting to see cast members react to the audience members on stage.
“It’s different,” Patron said. “It’s a lot of improv and I think sometimes that sets up for more comedy and it brings out the actors’ skills more. And they would always react so quick and witty. That was nice.”
Cameron Wills, San Marcos resident, said she appreciated every aspect of the show.
“Sometimes you need to go into the world of a fun musical like this,” Wills said. “I think this musical is more conversational than most but it’s a really good time. I’ve seen the show before, but this version was really funny. The actors and backstage crew did absolutely wonderful.”