Reviewed by Jamie Chapman Dixon
The 25th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee tells the glorious tale of a normal day to day Spelling Bee and how much such a simple thing can mean to so many people.
The set is simplistic, being set in a high school gymnasium, the feel of the theatre is perfect. As the lights go up there is a twist. On arrival to the theatre we are asked to nominate our friends and family to be ‘Guest Spellers’. Four of these names are announced and they must then take a number, and then join the cast on stage to take part in the Bee.
The show progresses through the competition as one by one the competitors are eliminated. Some take this gracefully, others not so much. The questions get funnier and funnier along with the sentences that go with them. As if the performers acting wasn’t good enough, every single member of the cast plays a different instrument and at one point join together to create a beautifully sounding orchestra.
When I heard about Spelling Bee and the great reviews it was getting, I really wanted to try and find something that maybe didn’t work or could of been improved on. I can happily say it’s simply impossible. Every aspect of this show was superb and to a standard which could match (or beat) any west end show.
The cast were phenomenal. I would pick out a particular performer but it would be unfair on the others as they were all brilliant. Every harmony was beautiful, every character so mature and thought out. Bo has done an excellent job but having a cast as talented as this there was no doubt it would be a hit.
My stand out song (which I don’t know the name of so will call it Mama I love you) was a 3 part harmony with Tanya Shields, Caroline Rodgers and Brian McCann. I can honestly and happily say it gave me goosebumps and a shiver down my spine which will keep a smile on my face all day.
I’ve never seen a show at The Broadway Theatre in Catford before but it was lovely. The staff were a delight and so was everyone else I met. I’ve seen some big budget shows this week, but I can honestly say this has topped them all.
If this show doesn’t get a transfer it is a tragedy. As you can tell, I enjoyed myself and I could not promote this show enough (unless someone gives me a sandwich board to walk up and down the streets wearing, which I’d happily do.)
All I can say is thank you to everyone involved in this show for giving me the best musical theatre show I’ve seen this year.
Go see this show or you will truly be missing out. I wouldn’t be surprised if people are still talking about this version for years to come.
Spelling Bee is on until 24th March at Catford Theatre