Rachel Yeager, Carrie Cook Ketterman, Chris Maier & Jeff Ketterman in
The 25th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee. Photo-Mind’s Eye Theatre


The 25th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee

Lyrics and Music by William Finn
Based on the book by Rachel Sheinkin
Music Direction by Kim Stover Hartz
Choreography by Valerie Canon
Directed by Janet Morris

Review by Kate Barry

Entire contents are copyright © 2014 Kate Barry. All rights reserved.

Wouldn’t it be nice to be a kid again? How great would it be to forget about bills, work, and other matters of adulthood and be a carefree adolescent? Well, let’s face it, being a kid isn’t always a worry-free experience. In The 25th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee, six delightfully quirky youngsters compete for the title for the best speller while dealing with the growing pains that come with being a kid.

This musical one-act presents countless opportunities for its adult actors to really stretch their comedic legs as the unique children. Jeff Ketterman as Chip Tolentino puts his vocal work to good use as a boy in the throws of puberty. I’ll admit I was skeptical about the choice to use a nasally tone until the shows epilogue where Ketterman’s acting choice really pays off. The choice shows great contrast to Ketterman’s appearance as Jesus, whose voice bares a striking resemblance to President Clinton. Rachel Yeager as Schwarzy adopts a lisp that extenuates her hyper ethical opinions and as lightens the mood when she is eliminated from the bee.

As Olive, Carrie Cooke Ketterman shows the emotional depth of childhood insecurity. A child who firmly believes that the words in the dictionary will be the friends she has forever, Cooke Ketterman shows vulnerability as this character, which is a drastic change from the other characters. In the “I Love You Song,” she belts her heart out as Olive yearns for her parents love. Chris Meier plays Willam Barfee with amazing timing. Meier is a notable match to the noted actors who have played this role. With boisterous confidence and a talent for leg movement, Meier’s portrayal is hilarious and full of heart.

Rounding out the cast is Jake Minton as Leaf Coneybear, a cape wearing, dinosaur enthusiast who isn’t afraid to let his freak flag fly. Minton works hard to capture the essence of this strange boy but his strongest moments occur when he snaps into a trance-like state. Strong support is provided by Mandy Kramer as the rigid Catholic school-girl Marcy Parks who is not all business. Nicole Casteel as Rona Peretti shows strength as she relives her glory days as spelling champion all the while living vicariously through the young spellers.

A word of advice for anyone who is planning on attending, if you are asked to participate before entering the theater- Do it! You will have the chance to sing and dance with six great kids and test your spelling skills. Don’t worry if you misspell the word, Mitch Mahoney (Daniel Smith), the ex-con who is working on his community service hours will croon you off the stage and back to your seat. In short, Mind’s Eye Theater has a fun show on their hands.

The 25th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee

September 19, 20, 26, 27, 2014 @ 8pm
September 21 and 28, 2014 @ 2pm

Tickets are $18 and can be purchased at the Kentucky Center box office,
OR by calling 502-584-7777 or 1-800-775-7777,
OR by logging on to their website www.kentuckycenter.org

Mind’s Eye Theater
at The MeX Theater
Kentucky Center for the Arts
501 West Main Street
Louisville, KY 40202


headshots! 2-4Kate Barry earned her Bachelors in English with a Theater minor from Bellarmine University in 2008. She has worked with many different companies around town including Kentucky Shakespeare Festival, Bunbury Theater, Louisville Repertory Company, Walden Theater, Finnigan Productions and you have probably purchased tickets from her at that little performing arts center on Main Street as well. In 2012, her short play “PlayList” won festival favorite in the Finnigan Festival of Funky Fresh Fun. She has written for Leo Weekly and TheatreLouisville.com as well. Thanks for reading!