From the Cast: The 25th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee

A cast-perspective on their experience in the production of the 25th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee.


Cast of The 25th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee

Samarth Prajapati and Brandon Kang

The contestant stared at Jesus, descending to Earth to comfort her, as she was about to spell her word for the judges. This somewhat exaggerated depiction of God’s compassionate nature is perfectly normal in the wild world of Putnam County, crafted meticulously in Mitty’s Winter play.

The 25th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee was a hit amongst the Mitty community. Featuring a unique fourth wall-breaking experience, the musical had many different components that led to its success.

Senior Angela Du, assistant director for the musical, specifically appreciated “the hidden messages behind the musical.” Angela mainly worked with the understudies, the younger group of students that rehearsed the roles, ready to step in at any time. During rehearsal, Angela formed core memories and strong bonds with the people she worked with. Sometimes, she “even had to step in for a few roles to act and sing” with little to no preparation. Navigating through homework and college applications, her passion showed through as she diligently fulfilled her role in the musical.

Most people come in thinking it’s a comedy, but it’s honestly so much more than that.

— Angela Du, Class of 2023

The key memories formed amongst the cast members—not only as actors but also as friends—facilitated their performance on stage. “Sometimes when you’re acting, finding the humanness of your character can be difficult. But during the “I Love You” song, the cast was so connected as they really were able to access the humanity of our characters, ” says junior Jenika Fernando.

Jenika acted alongside freshman Kai Scharlin. Kai relates to the development of the characters and how the cast was able to bring out the emotions of each and every character: “You really got to learn about the character backgrounds and stories as the show progressed.” Actors such as Kai and Jenika worked hard to portray the complicated personalities behind their characters, creating an emotionally impactful musical for all of those involved.

However, in order to prepare for the winter musical, the crew members and actors had to first overcome a few challenges. Jenika describes, “It’s a challenge to stay in character during improv movements in the musical and make a choice that Olive would make, rather than a Jenika choice.”

Spontaneous reaction was required of the cast and they made sure to deliver. Nicholas Corral, the senior stage manager for the musical, states, “we also got to have audience members on stage, and that’s not something seen very often in shows.” This involved incorporating a whole new layer of complexity into the already challenging musical. The weeks of preparation for the musical, both backstage and onstage, allowed the musical to flow smoothly.

Besides being a sold-out musical, The 25th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee was also an emotional lesson, relatable to the high school audience and cast. Angela reflects, “The musical is about the students and what they feel, so it’s more of a reflection of schools in general and what people don’t see.”

Nicholas adds, “I have so much respect for what the actors do; they work so hard for so long to get ready for the show, and when you’re just doing the tech or just spectating you don’t see that.”

The musical had many layers involved in making it successful, but the cast members bound the layers together. In the process, they created a hilarious, memorable experience. As Angela recounts, “Most people come in thinking it’s a comedy, but it’s honestly so much more than that.”