The 25th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee

25th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee

"Credit must also go to Connor Going for his tight musical direction of his note-perfect and fantastic sounding ensemble."

"a joyous evening of theatre that's impossible to resist."

Glasgow Theatre Blog, Lauren Humphreys


"Have you ever gone to see a show that's totally exceeded all your expectations?"

"This show is sharp, witty and downright hilarious."

West End DreamerSiobahn Brenner



“The Bee”, as this lengthily titled one act musical comedy is affectionately (and justifiably) known, does exactly what it says in the title.  That is, it is set entirely during a youth spelling competition in Putnam County.  How dull, you might say.  How wrong you might be!

Against the backdrop of youthful enthusiastic American competition is delivered a touching and intelligent study of character with an uplifting score and some genuine poignancy (P-O-I-G-N-A-N-C-Y).  As the six competitors (and three adults) are introduced and begin their spelling challenge, we get to know them, their backgrounds and their life goals; and we are quickly drawn into this quirky bright and engaging tale.  To add to the complexity of this nine part ensemble show, four members of the audience (recruited earlier in the evening) join the cast onstage as guest contestants; adding more fun and a random element to an already laugh-out-loud show.

Staging was necessarily simple at the new Cottiers Kelvinbridge venue.  Direction from Sarah-Elizabeth Daly was crisp, lively and genuinely touching at times.  Music and Lyrics by William Finn supported character throughout with energetic and comedic numbers balanced beautifully by wistful soliloquies (S-O-L-I-L-O-Q-U-I-E-S) as the audience glimpsed back stories that the principals kept hidden – even from each other.  Particularly effective was the structure of some of the songs which could be highly complex and often left the performers exposed against clashing harmony from chorus or band.  This emphasised the vulnerability of characters and was beautifully executed by the cast and band under the direction of Connor Going.

The cast were universally excellent.  And I mean that (E-X-C-E-L-L-E-N-T).  Completely flawless in their delivery of comedy, song and childlike choreography (by John Gerard McFaulds).  An incredibly diverse range of characters were rendered and all with complete conviction and in the absence of unnecessary stereotypes (S-T-E-R-E-O-T-Y-P-E-S). There were particularly impressive vocals, incredibly funny mannerisms, hilarious physical comedy … all of the ingredients were just right.  Without exception, Rachel Sheinkin’s side-splitting book was delivered to maximum effect.

Presented by Mad Props Theatre Company as their inaugural production.  This is definitely a company to watch for the future; particularly as their next production is Avenue Q.

The best £12 you could possibly spend this weekend.


UK Theatre Network, Cameron Lowe