NEW PALTZ—The State University of New York at New Paltz Department of Theatre Arts presents the Tony Award-winning musical, “The 25th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee,” conceived by Rebecca Feldman with music and lyrics by William Finn, book by Rachel Sheinkin, and additional material by Jay Reiss. With direction and choreography by Joe Langworth and musical direction by Sarah Brett England, the performances will take place Sept. 26 – Oct. 20 in Parker Theatre located on the campus.
Set at Putnam Valley Middle School, the show follows six precocious kids vying for the spelling championship of a lifetime. The youngsters struggle to become the best, but ultimately learn that winning isn’t everything and that losing doesn’t necessarily make you a loser. A unique twist on this production is that theatre-goers can actually be in the show. Audience volunteers will be recruited before each show to participate on stage as “guest spellers,” guaranteeing a new set of hilarious and unexpected experiences.
Langworth is a Broadway veteran, having performed in such shows as “Ragtime” and “A Chorus Line.” As a director and choreographer, he has collaborated on such productions as Lincoln Center Theater’s revival of “South Pacific” and the Tony Award nominated play “Next Fall.” Last spring he worked alongside Jack Wade, professor and chair of the Department of Theatre Arts at New Paltz, as choreographer for the well-received production of Mel Brooks’ “The Producers.”
England has musically directed and accompanied more than 70 shows throughout the country, with credits at Barrington Stage Company, Surflight Theatre, Texas Family Musicals, New Harmony Theatre, Circa ’21 Dinner Theatre, Nebraska Theatre Carvan, Jenny Wiley Theatre, Ocean City Theatre Company, and Virginia Shakespeare Festival. She wrote the vocal arrangement for “Happy Hanukkah” (music and lyrics by Carol Boyd Leon), which debuted at the Encore Chorale’s holiday concert at the Kennedy Center in Washington, D.C. in 2008. She has also edited the music of Carol Boyd Leon’s song books, “Songs from the Heart,” “Jewish Life Cycle,” “Gan Shirim,” and “Voices in Prayer.” Additionally, England wrote arrangements for “Halloween Hullabaloo,” a musical revue by Jennifer Winegardner, and “Welcome to Shoofly,” a new musical by Justin Anthony and Jonathan Lee.
The show’s principal designers include set designer Ken Goldstein, co-chair of the Department of Theatre Arts at New Paltz; costume design by Jonathan Buckmaster (’13, Theatre Arts); Driscoll Otto, lighting design; and sound design by Eric Glauber (’14, Theatre Arts). The production is being supervised by Chris Noble, faculty member in the Department of Theatre Arts.
Reserved ticket prices for showings are $20 for general admission, $10 for students, and $18 for seniors and SUNY faculty/staff. Tickets can be purchased online by visiting www.newpaltz.edu/theatre or by calling (845) 257-3880.