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Broadway: Spelling Bee

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spelling beeThe 25th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee was not high on my list of musicals to see, but when I learned that Jose Llana, a Filipino who was in the original cast, was still performing in the show, I knew I had to see it... if only to justify what a series of posts on Broadway is doing on this blog =)

And so, I joined the lottery one day—and lost. I was thinking of going to TKTS or using a coupon, but I decided that trying out the $25 SRO tickets might be good for my soul. Big mistake. I can't help but think now that I might have enjoyed the show more if I were sitting down.

Anyway, the musical is worth seeing if you're a kid or a kid-at-heart, or have ever joined or won a spelling bee... like me <blush>. (Aside: Now you know why I have editor-itis LOL!)

It's really a spelling contest, but the personal lives of the participants are explored, too. Some of the transitions worked for me, but others were a bit forced in my opinion. And no, I don't remember any of the songs. But it is a funny show.

Their best gimmick was calling four members of the audience to be contestants at the start of the show. They were asked to spell relatively simple words. Two of the adults were eliminated after the first word ("j-i-h-a-a-d" and "m-e-x-i-c-i-a-n"; can you believe that?), but the last man standing was actually a boy, who was probably 10 years old.

The boy's first word was "cow." And since all the contestants had to ask that the word be used in a sentence, that's what he did. The answer? "Spell cow." And he did. But what was so amazing was that the boy was able to advance with less familiar words like "wanagan." It helped, of course, that he was asked to listen carefully while words were pronounced carefully. Then again, that didn't help the adults =)

And Jose Llana? He played the role of last's year's champ. I think he played it very well because I couldn't imagine that he was the same guy who was Lea Salonga's leading man in Flower Drum Song. He didn't quite look like a kid, but he was very much a kid.

Note: Don't get confused. This post should have been written while I was in New York. I'm in Toronto now.

Category: Broadway

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