The 25th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee is a musical comedy with music and lyrics by William Finn, a book by Rachel Sheinkin, conceived by Rebecca Feldman with additional material by Jay Reiss. The show centers on a fictional spelling bee set in a geographically ambiguous Putnam Valley Middle School. Six quirky adolescents compete in the Bee, run by three equally quirky grown-ups.

The 2005 Broadway production, directed by James Lapine and produced by David Stone, James L. Nederlander, Barbara Whitman, Patrick Catullo, Barrington Stage Company and Second Stage Theater, earned good reviews and box-office success and was nominated for six Tony Awards, winning two, including Best Book. The show has spawned various other productions in the United States, and other countries.

An unusual aspect of the show is that four real audience members are invited on stage to compete in the spelling bee alongside the six young characters. During the 2005 Tony Awards, former Presidential candidate Al Sharpton competed. Another amusing aspect of the show is that the official pronouncer, usually an improv comedian, provides ridiculous usage-in-a-sentence examples when asked to use words in a sentence. For instance, for the word "palaestra", he says, "Euripides said, 'What happens at the palaestra stays at the palaestra.'"Template:Fact At some shows, adult-only audiences (over age 16) are invited for "Parent-Teacher Conferences," also known as "adult night at the Bee." These performances are peppered with sexual references and profanity inspired by R-rated ad-libs made during rehearsals.

The Broadway cast album was released on May 31, 2005 and is available from Ghostlight Records, an imprint of Sh-K-Boom Records. The original Broadway cast recording was nominated for a Grammy Award.

Background and original productions[]

The musical was based upon C-R-E-P-U-S-C-U-L-E, an original improvisational play created by Rebecca Feldman and performed by The Farm, a New-York-based improvisational comedy troupe. Sarah Saltzberg, Wendy Wasserstein's weekend nanny, was in the original production, and Wasserstein recommended that Finn see the show. Finn brought Rachel Sheinkin on board, and they worked together with Feldman to transform "C-R-E-P-U-S-C-U-L-E" into a scripted full-length musical.

Spelling Bee was workshopped and developed at the Barrington Stage Company (BSC), Massachusetts, where Julianne Boyd is the Artistic Director, in two different stages. In February 2004, a workshop was done in which a first act and parts of a second act were created – this stage of the process was directed by Michael Barakiva and Feldman. The script was fleshed out and the show was given a fuller production in July 2004, directed by Feldman and Michael Unger.[1][2] Dan Knechtges choreographed the workshop, summer productions, and the Broadway production. Dana Harrel produced both productions as the Producer of Stage II at BSC. Several cast members, Dan Fogler, Jay Reiss, and Sarah Saltzberg remained from C-R-E-P-U-S-C-U-L-E. Robb Sapp (later replaced by Jose Llana when Sapp moved on to Wicked), Dashiell Eaves (replaced by Derrick Baskin), Jesse Tyler Ferguson, Celia Keenan-Bolger (joined as Olive Ostrovsky in the summer), Lisa Howard, and Deborah S. Craig were added to the cast, and a full script was created.

The musical opened Off-Broadway at the Second Stage Theatre on January 11, 2005 in previews, officially on February 7, 2005, and closed on March 20, 2005.[3][2] The production won several awards, among them the 2005 Lucille Lortel Awards, Outstanding Musical and 2005 Drama Desk Awards, Outstanding Ensemble Performance.[4]

Spelling Bee premiered on Broadway at the Circle in the Square Theatre on April 15, 2005 and closed on January 20, 2008 after 1,136 performances and 21 previews.[5] The director was James Lapine and the choreographer Dan Knechtges. The show won Tony Awards for Best Book (Rachel Sheinkin) and Best Featured Actor (Dan Fogler).

Subsequent productions[]

The first production outside the United States was at the Melbourne Theatre Company in Melbourne, Australia, from January 18, 2006 to February 25 at the Playhouse, Arts Centre Melbourne. It starred Marina Prior as Ms. Peretti, David Campbell as Chip, and Magda Szubanski as Barfée.[6] The production, which won the 2006 Helpmann Award for Best Musical, was then presented by the Sydney Theatre Company at the Sydney Theatre in 2007. It again starred Prior and Szubanski, now joined by Lisa McCune as Olive. The Sydney season opened on June 11, 2007 and closed in August 2007.[7]

The musical was produced in San Francisco, California, at the Post Street Theatre opening on March 1, 2006 and closing on September 3, 2006.[8] In Chicago the run began on April 11, 2006 at the Drury Lane Theatre, Water Tower Place, closing on March 25, 2007. The production was directed by James Lapine.[9][10] In Boston it opened at the Wilbur Theatre on September 26, 2006 and closed December 31, 2006. The majority of the San Francisco cast moved to the Boston production.[11][12]

The Equity U.S. National Tour began in Baltimore, Maryland at the Hippodrome Theatre on September 19, 2006 going through May 2007, visiting over 30 cities across the U.S.[13] From May 24 to June 17, 2007, the original Broadway cast reunited for a limited four-week run at the Wadsworth Theater in Los Angeles.[14] The musical returned to Barrington Stage Company, where it originated, in 2008, and ran from June 11 to July 12, 2008.[15] The production included several cast members from the touring company and was a co-production with North Shore Theatre. The first performance in-the-round was at the North Shore Music Theatre in Beverly, Massachusetts from August 12–31, 2008.[16]

In 2007, the first translated production opened in Seoul, South Korea, with all of the music and dialogue in Korean, but the words were spelled in English. In September 2008, a German-language adaptation premiered as Der 25 Pattenser Buchstabierwettbewerb.[17]

The 2008–2009 Non-Equity U.S. National Tour premiered on October 11, 2008 at the Union Colony Civic Center in Greeley, Colorado, with an official opening in Fort Collins, Colorado on October 14.[18]

The Mason Street Warehouse, Saugatuck Center for the Arts, Saugatuck, Michigan, opened on August 14 and ran through August 31, 2009,[19] directed by Kurt Stamm.[20]

The musical made its UK premiere at the Donmar Warehouse, London, beginning previews on February 11, 2011. It officially opened on February 21, and closed on April 2. The director was Jamie Lloyd.[21]

Spelling Bee made its Scandinavian debut in September 2012 in Oslo, Norway.

Spelling Bee was performed for the first time in Israel, with Hebrew subtitles in October 2012, at the AACI J-Town Playhouse theater in Jerusalem.[22][23] Spelling Bee had an additional series of performances in September, 2017 in Israel by the organization The Stage, at the Beit Yad leBanim theatre in Tel Aviv.[24][25]



Act I[]

The musical begins with Rona Lisa Peretti entering the gymnasium to set up. As she passes by the microphone, she has a flashback to the moment when she won the third annual spelling bee by correctly spelling syzygy. The spellers are introduced as they enter, and sing about their anticipation of the bee ("The Twenty-Fifth Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee"). Rona then welcomes the audience to the bee, and calls the selected 4 audience spellers to the stage. She also speaks privately to Olive Ostrovsky, who has not yet paid the entrance fee of twenty-five dollars. When asked if she has a parent in the audience who can pay, Olive reveals that she has arrived by herself on the bus. Rona decides to let the fee slide for the moment. She then introduces the official word pronouncer, Douglas Panch, who is returning from a five-year hiatus. Panch alludes to an incident five years ago, but declares that he is in a better place now. Panch introduces the intimidating-looking comfort counselor, Mitch Mahoney, who is helping at the Bee as part of his court-mandated community service. Mahoney leads the spellers (now including the audience volunteers) in the Pledge of Allegiance. Panch then explains the rules of the spelling bee ("The Spelling Rules / My Favorite Moment of the Bee 1").

The spelling bee begins and as each non-audience speller is called forward, the audience learns about his or her background through flashbacks (with other characters in the flashbacks being played by the other spellers on stage, including simple nonspeaking roles played by the audience spellers, as guided by the actors). Logainne Schwartzandgrubenierre is called up first. When Leaf Coneybear is called to spell the first time, it is revealed in a flashback that he came in third at his regional bee, but advanced to the county finals when the winner and runner-up had to attend the winner's Bat Mitzvah. His word is capybara, which he has no idea how to spell, but he ends up spelling it correctly while in a trance. Olive is shown to be shy and reserved, a result of her largely absent parents — her mother is in India on a spiritual journey, and her father is missing the bee to work, late as usual. She has come to love spelling by reading the dictionary in her home ("My Friend, the Dictionary"). An audience volunteer is called up, and is given an easy word. If they get it correct, the 2nd volunteer then gets a hard word intended to eliminate them. If the first volunteer gets their word wrong, then the 2nd is given an easy word or not called at all. When William Barfée is called to spell for the first time, Rona describes his unusual technique — he spells the word out on the ground with his foot to get a visual before speaking it. He demonstrates his confidence by returning to his seat immediately after spelling his word, and responding "I know" when Panch affirms that the spelling is correct. The 3rd volunteer is given an easy word (often "Mexican"), which the spellers complain about. After several rounds, another particularly easy word is given to the final audience speller (often "cow", "telephone" or "hospital"), and the spellers erupt and rant about how the element of luck makes the bee unfair ("Pandemonium"). Logainne then gets "Cystitis," and is shown studying with her two often-arguing fathers in a flashback. When Leaf is called the second time, he is given acouchi, which he again does not know how to spell. He reminisces about how his family repeatedly calls him "dumb", a sentiment that he has come to believe. Again, in a trance, he spells the word correctly ("I'm Not That Smart").

Barfée is called, and this time sings about his technique ("Magic Foot"). When Marcy is called again, she correctly spells an extraordinarily difficult word ("qaimaqam"), proving herself to be the best speller. However, she is genuinely surprised and somewhat hurt when Rona claims that she is "all business". Chip Tolentino is called next, but he is not paying attention. Rather, he is fantasizing about Leaf's attractive sister, Marigold, in the audience. When snapped out of his daze, he is reluctant to take his turn because he has an erection that is showing. Under threat of disqualification, he takes his turn, but his thoughts (aided by the vaguely erotic word that he is given, tittup) distract him and he begins to misspell the word. He catches himself quickly, and backs up to try to save himself, but the rules of the bee state that "the sequences of letters already spoken may not be changed". He begs for another chance, but Mitch eventually hauls him off ("Pandemonium (Reprise) / My Favorite Moment of the Bee 2").

At this point, the last audience speller is eliminated (he or she simply is called repeatedly in succession and given increasingly difficult words). Mitch sings a special serenade to this audience member for making it this far ("Prayer of the Comfort Counselor").

Act II[]

The remaining spellers (all of the normal cast spellers except for Chip) and the adults go on break, and Chip passes through the audience selling snacks, the punishment for being the first eliminated. He explains to the audience why he lost ("My Unfortunate Erection (Chip's Lament)"). Barfée taunts Chip, who throws a bag of peanut M&M's at him. Barfée is allergic to peanuts, so Olive picks them up for him. Chip and Barfée continue to fight before Rona escorts the former offstage. Olive and Barfée converse awkwardly before the second half of the bee begins, and Barfée begins to develop a crush on Olive.

With the break over, Rona introduces the finalists as they reenter. Last to be introduced is Logainne, who describes her two overbearing fathers and the stress that they put on her ("Woe is Me"). In a montage sequence, the bee is shown progressing through many rounds, ending with Leaf’s elimination on the word chinchilla. He walks away head held high, having proven to himself, despite his elimination, that he is smart (I'm Not that Smart (Reprise)").

Marcy is called to spell, and Rona, who has been announcing factoids about the spellers all along, announces that Marcy speaks five languages. Marcy reveals more about her stressful life, where she is pushed to succeed in everything, which she does not enjoy ("I Speak Six Languages"). She is given the word camouflage, to which she sighs, "Dear Jesus, can't you come up with a harder word than that?" Jesus then appears to her and teaches her that she is in control of her own life. Resolved to do what she wants rather than what is expected of her, she intentionally misspells the word and exits excitedly ("Jesus / Pandemonium (Reprise #2)").

Olive's cellphone rings — it is her father, who she has been anxiously hoping would arrive. Panch attempts to disallow her from answering the phone, but she persuades Rona to take the call for her. Logainne then begins an ad-libbed rant about the bee, her fathers, and current political events. Panch, provoked by the rant and upset that he has lost control over the bee, loses his temper and lashes out at Logainne, who is next up to spell. Panch is then escorted offstage by Rona and Mitch (different productions handle this differently). One of Logainne's fathers jumps onstage to calm Logainne down, and, despite his daughter's protests, pours some of his soda on the floor to make Barfée's foot stick and thus disrupt his technique.

With Panch calmed down, Olive is called to spell. She asks what her father had said, and is saddened to learn that he said he is running even later than planned. Her word is chimerical, and mirroring the word's definition, she imagines her parents being there and giving her the love that she always has wanted and yearned for, while showing the problems with her own family ("The I Love You Song").

Barfée is called to spell next, and when he uses his signature technique, the soda causes his foot to stick. Much to his surprise, he is able to spell his word correctly anyway. Logainne is next, and she overcomplicates her word vug and misspells it ("Woe is Me (Reprise)"). Rona is excited that it has come down to the final two ("My Favorite Moment of the Bee 3").

The finals are shown through another montage ("Second"), and Olive and Barfée continue to grow closer. Eventually, Olive misspells a word (elanguescence), giving Barfée a chance to win by spelling his next word correctly. He is torn between winning and letting Olive win, but with Olive's encouragement, he spells his word correctly (Weltanschauung). Panch awards William Morris Barfée the trophy and two hundred dollar prize, and in a surprise act of charity, gives Olive a fictitious runner-up prize of twenty-five dollars from his own pocket — exactly the amount needed to cover her entrance fee. Olive congratulates and hugs Barfée, and each character reads their epilogue, a sentence or two about what they do in the years and decades after the main action of the play ends ("Finale").

Musical Numbers[]

Act 1
  • "The Twenty-Fifth Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee" – Chip, Rona, Leaf, Logainne, Barfée, Marcy, Olive
  • "The Spelling Rules" ‡ – Panch, Spellers, Rona, Mitch
  • "My Favorite Moment of the Bee" ‡ – Rona
  • "My Friend, the Dictionary" – Olive, Chip, Leaf, Logainne, Rona, Company
  • "The First Goodbye" – Company
  • "Pandemonium" – Chip, Olive, Logainne, Leaf, Barfée, Marcy, Mitch
  • "I'm Not That Smart" – Leaf
  • "The Second Goodbye" – Company
  • "Magic Foot" – Barfée, Company
  • "Pandemonium (Reprise)" ‡ – Mitch, Company
  • "My Favorite Moment of the Bee (Reprise)" ‡ – Rona
  • "Prayer of the Comfort Counselor" – Mitch, Company
Act 2
  • "My Unfortunate Erection/Distraction (Chip's Lament)" – Chip
  • "Woe is Me" – Logainne, Carl, Dan, and Company
  • "Spelling Montage" – Panch, Spellers
  • "I'm Not That Smart (Reprise)" – Leaf
  • "I Speak Six Languages" – Marcy, Females
  • "Jesus" – Marcy, Females
  • "The I Love You Song" – Olive, Olive's Mom, Olive's Dad
  • "Woe is Me (Reprise)" – Logainne, Mitch
  • "My Favorite Moment of the Bee (Reprise 2)" ‡ – Rona
  • "Second" ‡ – Barfée, Olive, Company
    • "Second (Part 1)" – Barfée, Olive, Company
    • "Weltanschauung" – Barfée, Company
    • "Barfée and Olive Pas de Deux" – Company
    • "Second (Part 2)" – Barfée, Olive, Company
  • "The Champion" – Rona, Company
  • "Finale" – Company
  • "The Last Goodbye" – Company


Major characters
  • Rona Lisa Peretti: The number-one realtor in Putnam County, a former Putnam County Spelling Bee Champion herself, and returning moderator. She is a sweet woman who loves children, but she can be very stern when it comes to dealing with Vice Principal Panch, who has feelings for her that she most likely does not return. It is implied that she sees much of herself in Olive Ostrovsky. Her favorite moment of the Bee is in the minutes before it starts, when all the children are filled with the joy of competition, before they begin to resent each other. She later declares that she likes how everyone has an equal chance of winning, citing as an example that last year's winner can be this year's loser and vice versa. Another favorite moment is when the last winners go head to head for the top spot because it is so suspenseful and filled with hope. Ms. Peretti herself won the Third Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee by spelling "syzygy", which she recounts at the very beginning of the opening number.
  • Vice Principal Douglas Panch: After five years' absence from the Bee, Panch returns as judge. There was an "incident" at the Twentieth Annual Bee, but he claims to be in "a better place" now (or so we think), thanks to a high-fiber diet and Jungian analysis. He is infatuated with Rona Lisa Peretti, but she does not return his affections.
  • Mitch Mahoney: The Official Comfort Counselor. An ex-convict, Mitch is performing his community service with the Bee, and hands out juice boxes to losing students.
  • Olive Ostrovsky: A young newcomer to competitive spelling. Her mother is in an ashram in India, and her father is working late, as usual, but he is trying to come sometime during the bee. She made friends with her dictionary at a very young age, helping her to make it to the competition.
  • William Morris Barfée: A Putnam County Spelling Bee finalist last year, he was eliminated because of an allergic reaction to peanuts. His famous “Magic Foot” method of spelling has boosted him to spelling glory, even though he only has one working nostril and a touchy personality. He has an often-mispronounced last name: it is Bar-FAY, not BARF-ee ("there's an accent aigu", he explains with some hostility). He develops a crush on Olive. At the end of the play he wins the spelling bee.
  • Logainne "Schwarzy" SchwartzandGrubenierre: Logainne is the youngest and most politically aware speller, often making comments about current political figures, with two overbearing gay fathers pushing her to win at any cost. She is somewhat of a neat freak, speaks with a lisp, and knows she'll return to the bee next year.
  • Marcy Park: A recent transfer from Virginia, Marcy placed ninth in last year’s nationals. She speaks six languages, is a member of all-American hockey, a championship rugby player, plays Chopin and Mozart on multiple instruments, sleeps only three hours a night, hides in the bathroom cabinet, and is getting very tired of always winning. She is a total over-achiever, and attends a Catholic school called "Our Lady of Intermittent Sorrows." She is also not allowed to cry.
  • Leaf Coneybear: A homeschooler and the second runner-up in his district, Leaf gets into the competition on a lark: the winner and first runner-up had to go to the winner’s Bat Mitzvah. Leaf comes from a large family of former hippies and makes his own clothes. He spells words correctly while in a trance. In his song, "I'm Not That Smart", he sings that his family thinks he is "not that smart," but he insinuates that he is merely easily distracted. Most of the words that he is assigned are South American rodents with amusing names.
  • Charlito "Chip" Tolentino ("Tripp Barrington" in the original workshop, "Isaac 'Chip' Berkowitz" in the Chicago production): A Boy Scout and champion of the Twenty-Fourth Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee, he returns to defend his title. Relatively social and athletic, as he plays little league, Chip expects things to come easily but he finds puberty hitting at an inopportune moment.
  • Three or four spellers from the audience: Audience members are encouraged to sign up to participate before the show, and several are chosen to spell words on stage. In touring productions, local celebrities are sometimes selected.
Minor characters (All can be doubled by the actors playing the major characters)
  • Carl Grubenierre: One of SchwartzandGrubenierre’s fathers; he has set his heart on his little girl winning the Bee, no matter what he has to do, including sabotaging William’s foot. Usually played by the actor who plays Leaf.
  • Dan Schwartz: SchwartzandGrubenierre’s other father; he is more laid back and doting than Carl but is still intent on his daughter winning the Bee. Usually played by the actor who plays Mitch.
  • Leaf's Dad: Doubtful and finds his son annoying and unintelligent. Usually played by the actor who plays Barfée.
  • Leaf’s Mom: Overprotective and doubtful of her son’s abilities to stand up to the competition. Usually played by the actor who plays Logainne.
  • Leaf’s Siblings: Not very confident of Leaf’s abilities. Usually played by the remaining spellers (both cast and the volunteer audience spellers).
  • Olive’s Mom and Dad: She is in India, he is working late, but they appear in Olive’s imagination to encourage her and tell her they love her. Usually played by the actors who play Miss Peretti and Mitch.
  • Jesus Christ: Appears to Marcy in a moment of crisis. Usually played by the actor who plays Chip.

Casting history[]

The principal casts of notable productions of The Twenty-Fifth Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee

Role Off-Broadway & Broadway
San Francisco
Rona Lisa Peretti Lisa Howard Marina Prior Betsy Wolfe Katherine Kingsley
Douglas Panch Jay Reiss Tyler Coppin Jim Cashman Steve Pemberton
Mitch Mahoney Derrick Baskin Bert Labonte James Monroe Iglehart Ako Mitchell
Olive Ostrovsky Celia Keenan-Bolger Natalie O'Donnell Jenni Barber Hayley Gallivan
William Barfée Dan Fogler Magda Szubanski Jared Gertner David Fynn
Logainne SchwartzandGrubenierre Sarah Saltzberg Christen O'Leary Sara Inbar Iris Roberts
Marcy Park Deborah S. Craig Natalie Mendoza Greta Lee Maria Lawson
Leaf Coneybear Jesse Tyler Ferguson Tim Wright Stanley Bahorek Chris Carswell
Chip Tolentino Jose Llana David Campbell Aaron J. Albano Harry Hepple
Notable Broadway cast replacements included Jennifer Simard as Rona, Barrett Foa, Rory O'Malley, and Stanley Bahorek as Leaf, Josh Gad as Barfée, and Mo Rocca and Darrell Hammond as Panch.[26]

Audience interaction and words used[]

Audience interaction

About half an hour before the show begins, audience members in the lobby are given the chance to sign up to participate in the show as "spellers." The registration form asks for name, occupation, hobbies, description of clothing, spelling ability, and age range. Interviewers look for people with no acting experience, unique names, traits, and backgrounds. The audience participants are taken backstage prior to the show and are shown where to stand when called from the audience and given instruction about what to do when called upon to spell. They are asked to request a definition of each word and its usage in a sentence, and to attempt to spell each word rather than giving up. The final audience member to be eliminated is usually given an exceptionally difficult word they are sure to miss; regardless of the spelling the cast reacts with incredulity at his or her "success," and the next word is "belled" as incorrect before the attempt is completed. During the performance, the actors sitting next to the audience participants periodically whisper hints about when to stand, sit, move in "slow motion," "freeze" or hang on because the seating platform unit is about to spin.

Ms. Peretti calls the spellers to the stage at the beginning of the show, and they are given badges to wear that say "Finalist." As the show proceeds, each one is eliminated with successively more difficult words. The final audience participant to be eliminated is serenaded by Mitch ("Prayer of the Comfort Counselor") on-stage. Mitch also gives each eliminated finalist (both audience members and regular characters) a juice box and a hug.

Katharine Close, the 2006 winner of the Scripps National Spelling Bee, was invited to be a contestant at a performance of the show. She was the last speller from the audience to be eliminated and survived fourteen rounds.[27]

The musical treats the audience members as if they were the audience at the fictitious spelling bee. For example, the characters single out audience members as their "family" members. For example, Barfée periodically refers to an age-appropriate woman near the stage as "mom." Similarly, Chip is distracted by an attractive female audience member (or male in the adults-only version), contributing to a misspelling. He is the first contestant eliminated and is thus forced to sell snacks in the audience in the manner of the refreshment hawkers at a sports event. Other characters frequently walk through the auditorium among the audience during the show, sometimes integrating the audience into the show and occasionally dropping the "fourth wall".

Words used

Examples of words spelled by characters in performances of Spelling Bee include Astrobleme, Cat, Dinosaur, Hasenpfeffer, Origami (Adult Show), and Weltanschauung. Words spelled by the audience volunteers are often unscripted and sometimes improvised by the cast to gently poke fun at the volunteer speller. Past examples include: Dystopia, Cenacle, Elephant, Hemidemisemiquaver, Homunculus, Cow, Jihad, Lysergic Acid Diethylamide, Castoreum and Didgeridoo spelt by Rolf Harris. Julie Andrews missed "Supercalifragilisticexpialidocious" when she was a guest speller on KIDS night on Broadway, 2007.[28]

Critical response[]

Charles Isherwood, in his review of the Broadway production for The New York Times, wrote "Most crucially, the affectionate performances of the six actors burdened with the daunting challenge of inhabiting young souls have not been stretched into grotesque shape by the move to a large theater... William Finn's score sounds plumper and more rewarding than it did Off Broadway. If it occasionally suggests a Saturday morning television cartoon set to music by Stephen Sondheim, that's not inappropriate. And Mr. Finn's more wistful songs provide a nice sprinkling of sugar to complement the sass in Rachel Sheinkin's zinger-filled book... Mr. Lapine has sharpened all the musical's elements without betraying its appealing modesty." (NY Times Critics Pick)[29]

Awards and nominations[]

Original Off-Broadway production[]

Year Award Ceremony Category Nominee Result
2005 Drama Desk Award Outstanding Book of a Musical Rachel Sheinkin Won
Outstanding Ensemble Performance Won
Outstanding Director of a Musical James Lapine Won
Lucille Lortel Award Outstanding Musical Won
Outstanding Featured Actor Dan Fogler Won
Outstanding Director James Lapine Nominated
Outstanding Choreographer Dan Knechtges Nominated
Theatre World Award Dan Fogler Won
Celia Keenan-Bolger Won

Original Broadway production[]

Year Award Ceremony Category Nominee Result
2005 Drama Desk Award Outstanding Musical Nominated
Outstanding Lyrics William Finn Nominated
Outstanding Music Nominated
Tony Award Best Musical Nominated
Best Book of a Musical Rachel Sheinkin Won
Best Original Score William Finn Nominated
Best Performance by a Featured Actor in a Musical Dan Fogler Won
Best Performance by a Featured Actress in a Musical Celia Keenan-Bolger Nominated
Best Direction of a Musical James Lapine Nominated
2006 Grammy Award Best Musical Theater Album Nominated


  • This is one of the few broadway musicals to have audience participation.
  • The shows spellers ages differ depending on the show. Some productions have actual kids as the spellers while some have teens or adults as the spellers.


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  5. "'Bee' Spells Farewell January 20, 2008"
  6. Horsburgh, Susan. "Audience under a spell", The Australian, January 10, 2006, p. 12
  7. Simmonds, Diana."Review: 'Putnam County Spelling Bee' in Sydney Template:Webarchive, June 15, 2007
  8. Lemin, Clifton. "The 25th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee", March 3, 2006
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  10. No author. "Time Out!; Worth the trip", Chicago Daily Herald, March 23, 2007, p. 28
  11. Byrne, Terry. "Wilbur's `Spelling Bee' the definition of superb", The Boston Herald, October 4, 2006
  12. Kennedy, Louise. "Critics' Picks", The Boston Globe, December 10, 2006
  13. Hernandez, Ernio. The 25th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee National Tour Buzzes from Baltimore Sept. 19" Template:Webarchive, September 19, 2006
  14. Playbill News: Original Spelling Bee Cast to Reunite for Musical's L.A. Debut Template:Webarchive, 2007
  15. Listing, 2008 Template:Webarchive, retrieved January 16, 2010
  16. North Shore Music Theatre Template:Webarchive
  17. [1] tfn-online
  18. Tour listing, retrieved January 16, 2010
  19. Script error: No such module "citation/CS1".
  20. Haywood, Jeff. "Mason Street Warehouse takes look at quirky middle schoolers in performance of The 25th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee", August 9, 2009
  21. Shenton, Mark."Donmar to Stage U.K. Premiere of Spelling Bee, Plus Moonlight and Luise Miller Revivals" Template:Webarchive, September 3, 2010
  22. Script error: No such module "citation/CS1".
  23. [2]
  24. The Stage."The Stage presents: "The 25th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee"
  25. Timeout Israel Theater review: humor [3]
  26. [] ibdb
  27. "The 25th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee" at
  28. Script error: No such module "citation/CS1".
  29. Isherwood, Charles. "Six Misfits Test Wits on Bigger Platform" The New York Times, May 3, 2005