Musical Comedy, Featuring Audience Participation, Opens Thursday

COLUMBUS, Ga. - Audience members have an opportunity to join the cast as Columbus State University’s Department of Theatre presents The 25th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee Sept. 23-26 on the MainStage at Theatre on the Park on CSU’s downtown Columbus RiverPark campus.

Spelling bee's cast, front, from left: Melissa Manning, Ansley Selman, April Hollingsworth.  Back row, from left: E.J. Cameron, Nicholas Crawley, Chris Freeman.

Curtain times are 7:30 p.m. Thursday, Friday and Saturday and 2 p.m. Sunday.

The musical comedy features an ensemble cast of CSU students portraying participants in the fictional Putnam County Spelling Bee. The 90-minute production centers around six unique junior high school students as they compete to win the spelling bee.

“Each one of the characters has a different background and wants to win the spelling bee for their own personal reasons,” said Kate Musgrove, co-director and CSU professor.

  This musical also relies on audience participation. Each night, four audience members are invited to compete in the spelling bee to test their spelling skills alongside the characters. “Prior to the show, members of the audience are interviewed for a chance to participate as a spelling bee contestant,” said CSU theatre major Dureyea Collier, who is co-directing the show for his senior project.

Also, the set is designed to look like a gymnasium so audience members feel like they are sitting in the bleachers as the comedic antics of the musical takes place.

The 25th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee is based on the book by Rachel Sheinkin and the original play by Rebecca Feldman, with music and lyrics by William Finn. The musical won two Tony Awards for its 2005 Broadway production.

The CSU Department of Theatre production is one of six theatrical productions presented by the department this season.

Ticket prices are $22 or $20 for seniors, children, active military and CSU alumni. CSU students can receive one free ticket while CSU faculty and staff can receive two complimentary tickets. Discounts apply for groups of 10-19 (10 percent) and 20 or more (20 percent). Hours for the CSU Theatre Box Office at 10th Street and Bay Avenue are 11 a.m.-5 p.m. weekdays, plus one hour prior to each show. For more information, go to or call 706-507-8400.