Triangle Arts and Entertainment – News and Reviews Theatre Dance Music Arts

NRACT’s “Spelling Bee” Is Full of Delightful Surprises


The 25th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee is a fun show, one that, in recent years, has gotten a lot of play in and around the Triangle. However, the interactive nature of the show- viewers are pulled from the audience to actually participate in the fictional spelling bee taking place onstage- keeps this one fun and fresh no matter how many times one has seen it, and the NRACT production, directed by Yvonne Anderson, is certainly no exception.

Mike Anderson’s school gymnasium set, complete with realistic bleachers and banners on the wall, serves as the perfect backdrop to this whimsical show. And the show itself roars to life from the get-go with its colorful, whole-cast opening number which also serves to help introduce the crazy cast of characters.

Maribeth McCarthy is the perfect Rona Lisa Peretti, the Bee’s Mistress of Ceremonies who was once a bee participant herself. Her lively, quick-witted performance keeps the production moving along crisply and adds in plenty of laughs along the way. Other standouts include Aubrey Comperatore as the lisping, politically motivated Logainne Schwartzandgrubenierre, a contestant under a lot of pressure from her two dads; Dan Hawkins as the lovable but out-there Leaf Coneybear, the longshot contestant at the bee; and Jay Dolan as the hilarious Chip Tolentino, who suffers an “erection mishap” during the bee.

These characters and a host of others zip through this show in a lighthearted way that’s super fun to watch. Also, the cast shares a real warmth and chemistry that makes the onstage interactions that much more fun to watch.

Alison LaRue’s choreography shares this same light, easy touch, all leading to a production that’s 100% fun from start to finish. Last Thursday’s performance was especially a treat since one “guest speller” correctly spelled a word- “caterjeunes,” which he was supposed to misspell. Watching this cute cast fumble through the surprise and handle it with lots of humor was one of the best moments of this already-awesome production.

Fortunately, there are a few more performances left, so those who haven’t yet seen it can discover what surprises are in store at their viewing.

The North Raleigh Arts and Creative Theatre presents THE 25TH ANNUAL PUTNAM COUNTY SPELLING BEE at 3 p.m. March 13, 8 p.m. March 17-19, and 3 p.m. March 20 at 7713-51 Lead Mine Rd., Raleigh, North Carolina 27615, in the Greystone Village Shopping Center.

TICKETS: $12 Thursday, $20 Friday and Saturday ($17 students, teachers, seniors, and active-duty military personnel), and $18 Sunday ($15 students, teachers, seniors, and active-duty military personnel)

BOX OFFICE: 919-866-0228,, or

SHOW: and




The 25th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee (2005 Off-Broadway, 2005 Broadway, and 2011 West End musical): (Music Theatre International), (Internet Broadway Database), and (Wikipedia).

William Finn (composer and lyricist): (Internet Broadway Database) and (Wikipedia).

Rachel Sheinkin (playwright): (Yale School of Drama bio) and (Internet Broadway Database).

Yvonne Belsenti Anderson (Raleigh, NC director): (Facebook page).


Susie Potter is a Raleigh, NC-based freelance writer and editor. She is a 2009 graduate of Raleigh’s Meredith College, where she majored in English. She holds graduate degrees in teaching and American literature from North Carolina State University in Raleigh. In addition to her work for Triangle Arts and Entertainment, she is an award-winning author of short fiction. Her works have appeared in The Colton Review, Raleigh Quarterly, Broken Plate Magazine, Big Muddy: A Journal of the Mississippi River Valley, the Chaffey Review, and Existere. To read all of Susie Potter’s Triangle Arts and Entertainment articles and reviews, click To read more of her writings, click and

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Categorised in: A&E Theatre Reviews, Lead Story, Reviews, Theatre