Steamboat Springs High School drama troupe presents ‘Spelling Bee’ |

Steamboat Springs High School drama troupe presents ‘Spelling Bee’

Nicole Inglis

William Barfee, played by Christian Weeden, spells his word correctly using a rather unorthodox method in a scene from "The 25th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee." Weeden was rehearsing the part in the musical presented by Steamboat Springs High School, which will host performances at 7 p.m. Thursday, Friday and Saturday and a matinee performance at 2 p.m. Saturday at the high school. All tickets are general admission and are on sale at the high school.

— Olive Ostrovsky is a timid preteen who loves to read the dictionary. She speaks softly but feels at home under the lights and pressure of her school's spelling bee.

Steamboat Springs High School sophomore Heather Seams, who plays the fictional Olive in this weekend's production of "The 25th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee," may not be as keen on linguistics but gets the same feeling Olive does when she stands on her school's stage alongside her fellow cast members.

"I have such great relationships with everyone in this cast … and having those makes me feel like I fit in. That's how I'm like Olive," Seams said before the curtain rose on dress rehearsal Tuesday night. "She relates to those kids because they like spelling, and that's how I am with drama."

The show premieres at 7 p.m. Thursday. There will be performances at 7 p.m. Friday and Saturday as well as a matinee at 2 p.m. Saturday. Tickets are $10 for adults, $8 for high school students and $5 for students in kindergarten through eighth grades. There will be a special $5 senior rate for Saturday's matinee.

Seams and a small cast of a dozen other high school students will portray a motley group of young adolescents and faculty in the high school's annual musical, a character-driven coming-of-age comedy. The show follows the students through their annual spelling bee, which ultimately becomes more about the trials and tribulations of growing up than it is about winning.

But audience members be warned: The cast won't be the only ones on stage. At each performance, four lucky — or unlucky — audience members will get to see some of the show from the vantage point of the actors.

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The contemporary show used the same audience participation routine in its Tony Award-winning Broadway run in 2005. Originally devised from an improvisational comedy troupe, the show has a lively musical score punctuated by jokes and innuendos entertaining for all age groups.

And the improv aspect — with different spelling words and jokes in every show — has even the show's director, Jamie O'Reilly, in stitches every time she watches it.

"I just want to do something young and fresh and hip, and that is new language and new humor," said O'Reilly, who along with musical director Wendy Dillon, is in her first year at the high school. "It's a really challenging score, and with the added improvisation, I knew I was taking on a difficult show. But (the cast has) risen to it. They really put their heart and soul into it."

That meant rehearsals four days per week for hours on end during the past 2 1/2 months.

But on Thursday, the curtain will rise on a group of students who have become like family and have grown right alongside the characters on stage.

For sophomore Carly Hanley, performing the fruits of their labor will be about more than just playing the part of overachiever Marcy Park.

"I think just being a part of the process of a show in general, of bringing something to life, is worth it in the end," Hanley said. "You can see that, from a piece of paper, you can bring something that's dry to life."

­— To reach Nicole Inglis, call 970-871-4204 or email

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