THE FOOT THAT KEEPS ON GIVING
La Comedia newcomer Christopher Norton shines as disheveled, nerdy William Barfee, consumed by the idea that his “magic foot” helps him spell. Using his tall, stockier physicality to his advantage, Norton leads upbeat ensemble number “Magic Foot” to the hilt and also convincingly displays William’s sensitive side toward the conclusion.
THE FLUSTERED RETURNING CHAMPION
Vocally strong Wright State University musical theatre graduate Kyle Krichbaum charms as Chip Tolentino, winner of the 24th annual iteration whose concentration is shattered by pubescent urges beyond his control. His hilarious, audience-friendly, lyrically cautious rendition of “Chip’s Lament” totally hits the mark after intermission.
KOOKY EMOTIONAL COMPLEXITY
Eva Bower (timid Olive Ostrovsky), Allison Gabert (overachiever Marcy Park who speaks six languages and walks with calculated precision), Madeline Nichole (go-getter Logainne Schwartzandgrubeniierre), and Jonathan Pendergrass (gleefully eccentric Leaf Coneybear) are a wonderfully kooky quartet possessing a clear understanding of wounds at home, expertly revealed in Finn’s score. In particular, Bower’s “My Friend, The Dictionary,” Pendergrass’ “I’m Not That Smart” and Nichole’s “Woe is Me” are heartfelt standouts.
THE SIGNATURE MOMENT
Late in Act 2, Olive imagines being reunited with her parents, who are unable to attend the bee. “The I Love You Song,” one of the best numbers in Finn’s repertoire, is a heartbreaking, melodically gorgeous and soaring depiction of Olive’s desire for support and validation. Staged by Beiser with beautiful simplicity and performed with soulful yearning by Bower, Sutherland and Krichbaum, the song serves as a poignant reminder that competitions and titles are fleeting. At the end of the day, to be loved – to be truly embraced by a family capable of uplifting you and recognizing your potential – is all that matters, especially in the eyes of children.
HOW TO GO
What: “The 25th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee”
Where: La Comedia Dinner Theatre, 765 W. Central Ave., Springboro
When: Through Sept. 11; Thursday and Friday matinee and evening, Saturday evening, and Sunday brunch and evening.
More info: 937-746-4554 or lacomedia.com