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25th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee Comes to the Landers

(Poster design courtesy Springfield Little Theatre)

Springfield Little Theatre opens 2015 with "The 25th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee" Jan.23-Feb.8 at the Landers Theatre, 311 E. Walnut. With music and lyrics by William Finn and book by Rachel Sheinkin, "Spelling Bee" is a Tony-winning musical comedy chronicling the quest of six adolescent outsiders competing for the spelling championship of a lifetime. 

Beth Domann directs this production, and she wants to point out right from the get-go that, although the subject matter of the show is kids participating in a spelling bee, this is not a "kid's show"! "It's adult humor, PG-13.  It's adults playing kids in a spelling bee.  She notes the show is "very character-driven. They all have their stories... you can see a part of yourself in every one of the characters: the shy kid, the scientific geeky kid that knows everything, the girl that literally is the smartest person in the world--the little robot that finally breaks free of that.  And everybody has a moment where they kind of have an awakening--an epiphany.

In addition to comedy and music performed by the talented LT cast, at each performance four volunteers from the audience will be invited to participate, guaranteeing new and unexpected comedy at every show.  There will be a sign-up table in the Landers Theatre lobby before each show where anyone interested in participating onstage during the performance can sign up.  The production staff will draw names from the list and invite four people each night to come up onstage and try to spell and define words along with the cast members.  Beth Domann finds this approach far preferable to simply pulling people up onstage at random: "You don't want to bring people up who have no desire to be there!"

Music director for LT's production is Susan Gravatt, with choreography by Josh Inmon.  Stage director Beth Domann says they "have an incredible cast--it's just a delightful show."

The production opens Friday Jan.23rd at 7:30pm, with performances Thursdays through Saturdays at 7:30pm and Sundays at 2:30pm through February 8, with an additional matinee Saturday Jan.31st at 2:30.  For more information call the Landers box office at 869-1334 or visit

Randy Stewart joined the full-time KSMU staff in June 1978 after working part-time as a student announcer/producer for two years. His job has evolved from Music Director in the early days to encompassing production of a wide range of arts-related programming and features for KSMU, including the online and Friday morning Arts News. Stewart assists volunteer producers John Darkhorse (Route 66 Blues Express), Lee Worman (The Gold Ring), and Emily Higgins (The Mulberry Tree) with the production of their programs. He's also become the de facto "Voice of KSMU" in recent years due to the many hours per day he’s heard doing local station breaks. Stewart’s record of service on behalf of the Springfield arts community earned him the Springfield Regional Arts Council's Ozzie Award in 2006.