Mount Aloysius College's Theatre Department to stage musical comedy

Apr. 27—CRESSON, Pa. — You'll spell your way to a good time during this performance.

Mount Aloysius College's Theatre Department will present "The 25th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee" at 7:30 p.m. Thursday through Saturday in Alumni Hall at Mount Aloysius College in Cresson.

"It's one of those fun shows, and I love doing comedies because I feel like everyone had been through enough already, and it feels like life is heavy and dramatic enough," said Dan Evers, director of the production. "What drew me to it is it takes these exceptionally different people who all have these different talents, but they all have this odd passion for spelling."

Winner of two Tony Awards and the Drama Desk Award for Best Book, "The 25th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee" has charmed audiences across the country with its effortless wit and humor.

The story follows an eclectic group of six mid-pubescents who vie for the spelling championship of a lifetime.

While candidly disclosing hilarious and touching stories from their home lives, the tweens spell their way through a series of (potentially made-up) words, hoping never to hear the soul-crushing, pout-inducing, life un-affirming "ding" of the bell that signals a spelling mistake.

Six spellers enter; one speller leaves. At least the losers get a juice box.

Evers said that while the characters are fighting among themselves to become the champion, they're all pretty much the same kind of person and battling through different things.

"Whether it's feeling alone or trying to feel like they matter, and I feel like inherently that's everybody," Evers said. "When it comes from a kid's perspective, I think sometimes we're more apt to listen and receive that message versus if we tell it through the eyes of an adult, and it's a funny way to do it."

Evers said they approached the production by making the characters more personable, and having the audience invest not just in the comedy, but also the sincerity of the performance.

"It's heartbreaking, and something we've all gone through when we've experienced the loss of something we really wanted and how we deal with that," he said. "Our production really focuses on the idea of approaching loss in the spirit of, 'This isn't going to stop me from pursuing my goals.' "

The production includes a cast and crew of 13 students, with seasoned actors and newcomers to the stage.

"It's a very diverse group, and each one of these parts celebrates uniquely who they are as performers and people," Evers said. "It's very much a family vibe, and everyone is so supportive. They are thrilled to be a part of this show."

He said audiences can expect a lot of laughter from the musical.

"They'll also walk away feeling like they belong," Evers said.

The production is rated PG-13 for some adult themes.

There is no ticket fee, but donations will be accepted to benefit the Tim Michrina Endowed Scholarship Fund.

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