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Playhouse to stage ‘Spelling Bee’

June 16, 2011
From staff reports , The Herald-Star

WELLSBURG - The Brooke Hills Playhouse will present the Tony Award-winning musical comedy, "The 25th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee," at 8 p.m. today and Sunday and June 23-25 and 2 p.m. June 26.

Reservations are available by calling the playhouse, at (304) 737-3344.

The show follows young spelling bee contestants as they cope with the contest and the perils of growing up. It was conceived by Rebecca Feldman, with music and lyrics by William Finn, book by Rachel Sheinkin and additional material by Jay Reis.

The Brooke Hills Playhouse production is directed by veteran actor and director Russ Welch of Wellsburg, with musical direction by Bethany Snyder of Weirton, who was musical director for last year's playhouse production of "Godspell."

Piano accompaniment for the show will be provided by Roberta Fedoush of Weirton, who has been playing for Brooke Hills productions since high school.

Welch and Snyder announced a cast that features many faces familiar to area theater-goers, along with some relative newcomers in the roles of the middle-school-age contestants and their adult supervisors.

The cast includes Snyder as Logainne Schwartzandgrubenierre, the youngest and most politically astute competitor in the spelling bee; Nick Oliveira of Wellsburg as Leaf Coneybear, who became a contestant in the finals after the winner and first runner-up dropped out; Kimberly Winters of Follansbee as Rona Lisa Peretti, the bee moderator and a former spelling champ herself; Al Anglin of Follansbee as Vice Principal Douglas Panch, a man with serious anger-management issues who serves as the bee's judge; Kristen Stewart of Wellsburg as Marcy Park, an overachieving parochial school student; Cliff Welch of Wellsburg as William Barfee, a finalist from last year's bee who has an unusual method of spelling words; Karli Snyder of Beech Bottom as Olive Ostrovsky, a shy latch-key kid with serious parental abandonment issues; and Jaccob Trifonoff of Steubenville as Chip Tolentino, a Boy Scout and the bee's defending champion.

In addition, Welch will play the part of Mitch Mahoney, the bee's "comfort counselor," who hands out juice boxes to defeated contestants. Mahoney "volunteered" for the job as part of the community service portion of his probation.

Cast members also will double in a number of minor roles throughout the show.

The playhouse's 40th season is sponsored by WTOV-9 and the Center of Music and Art. Show sponsors include the Wellsburg Kiwanis Club, Koppers, Inc., Kwik King Food Stores, Main Street Bank and Brooke County Rotary Club.

New for this season, patrons may pay for their tickets with credit cards. For information, go to

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