Theatre UAB presents “The 25th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee” Oct. 17-21

Join Theatre UAB for this hilarious show, and perhaps be chosen from the audience to come on stage and compete.

putnam bodyRoot for the underdog when Theatre UAB presents the musical comedy that has charmed audiences across the country, “The 25th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee.”

Theatre UAB is the performance company of the University of Alabama at Birmingham College of Arts and SciencesDepartment of Theatre.

Winner of the Tony and the Drama Desk awards for Best Book, “The 25th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee” follows an eclectic group of six quirky adolescents who are competing at the regional championship. The riotous story follows these six spellers, who candidly disclose hilarious and touching stories from their home lives, as they spell their way through a series of words, hoping to never hear the ding of the bell.

This bombastic, yet touching, adventure is complete with audience participation. Four audience members will be chosen to compete alongside the six spellers in the bee, as they all compete to win the title of regional champion.

This play contains adult language and situations. Performances are at 7:30 p.m. nightly Oct. 17-20 and at 2 p.m. Sunday, Oct. 21, in UAB’s Alys Stephens Performing Arts Center, Sirote Theatre. Admission is $15 and $20; student tickets are $6. Tickets for UAB employees and senior citizens are $10. For tickets, call 205-975-2787 or go to Visit Theatre UAB online at

Music and lyrics are by William Finn, with book by Rachel Sheinkin. It was conceived by Rebecca Feldman, with additional material by Jay Reiss. Roy Lightner will direct the production, with music direction by Carolyn Violi.

“While the show itself is full of laughter, at the core sits the desire for the underdog to flourish. This production celebrates eclectic individuals from all walks of life, who have a love of language and a desire to be recognized.”

“Spelling Bee” premiered on Broadway, after a very successful Off-Broadway run, at the Circle in the Square Theatre in 2005 and closed in January of 2008, after 1,136 performances. Theatre UAB’s production is fast-paced, lively, humorous, touching and entertaining, Lightner says. 

“While the show itself is full of laughter, at the core sits the desire for the underdog to flourish,” Lightner said. “This production celebrates eclectic individuals from all walks of life, who have a love of language and a desire to be recognized.”

The students of the UAB Department of Theatre have attacked this production with fun and youthfulness, he says.

“I am beyond proud of the work the students have done, of the creative ideas and pursuit of excellence the students have brought to this production,” Lightner said. “We are very excited to share this fun, heartfelt, joyous comedy with our audiences.”

The cast is Alyse Rosenblatt of Plano, Texas, as Rona Lisa Peretti/Olive’s mom; Brian Wittenberg of Johns Creek, Georgia, as William Barfee/Leaf’s dad; Briana Hernandez of Atlanta as Marcy Park; Diego Villanueva of Katy, Texas, as Leaf Coneybear/Carl Grubinierre; Elizabeth Forman of St. Petersburg, Florida, as Logainne Schwartzandgrubenierre; Joey Parker of Kansas City, Missouri, as Douglas Panch; Nick Linhardt of Andover, Kansas, as Chip Tolentino/Jesus; Peyton Overstreet of Tallahassee, Florida, as Olive Ostrovsky; Royzell D. Walker of Cincinnati as Mitch Mahoney/Olive’s dad/Dan; and understudies Gary Fuqua of Florence, Alabama; Jenn Palmieri of Alpharetta, Georgia; Joseph Condon of St. Petersburg, Florida; and Lilly Bateh of Jacksonville, Florida.

The production crew is stage manager and props designer Rita Pearson-Daley of Montgomery, assistant stage managers Addie Counts of Chattanooga and Briana Scott, wardrobe manager Anna Shows, wardrobe crew Kristen Hall, scenery/props running crew Ryan Morrell and Tess Lenzen, light board operator Courtney Emmons, follow spotlight operators Madi Carr of Mobile and Megan Smith of Brandon, Mississippi, and sound deck crew Nina Ballon of New Orleans and Rachel Kate McGee of Birmingham.

UAB Theatre faculty for the production includes text coach Marlene Johnson, costume designer Kim Schnormeier and lighting designer, production manager and technical director Ed Zuckerman. UAB Theatre staff for the production includes costume director Amy Page, costume shop supervisor Sharon Morgan, stage electrics director Sean Doyle, properties master Marc Quattlebaum, assistant technical director David Page and scenic designer Elana Brooks.

Theatre UAB will also present “Angels in America, Part I: Millennium Approaches,” “Hay Fever,” the Festival of 10-Minute Plays, and an original musical, “Savage,” as part of its 2018-19 season.