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Home » ARTS AND CULTURE » CONNECTICUT » The 25th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee
The 25th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee
The 25th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee

The Brookfield Theatre for the Arts, Brookfield, Connecticut

By Ralph Papp | September 27, 2010

Ralph Papp was at the opening night for the Brookfield Theatre for the Arts latest production - The 25th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee.

The Brookfield Theatre for the Arts

Nestled in the woods of Brookfield, Connecticut is an unassuming little stone cottage that houses The Brookfield Theatre for the Arts (TBTA).   The building was constructed in 1907 as the gymnasium for The Curtis School for Boys.   The school operated at this location from 1886 until it closed its doors in 1943.   In 1959, the building and property were acquired by the Brookfield Country Players, and ever since it has been the setting for year-round productions of musicals and plays.

Michael Burnett, President and Artistic Director, shares that TBTA is “constantly looking to bridge the gap between productions that will push the envelope and challenge our audience, and producing theatre which is more accessible to a larger community.   I hope, wherever appropriate, to be able to connect our shows to a greater cause using the medium of theatre to support a larger community.”

In keeping with that spirit, this past spring’s production of The Laramie Project earned overwhelming support from the community, and proceeds from the show were donated to The Matthew Shepard Foundation.   Similarly, during this summer’s production of Once Upon This Island, TBTA collected non-perishable food items from patrons, and successfully shipped six large boxes of food directly to Haiti.   They also donated almost $1000 of their proceeds from ticket sales to The Haitian Health Foundation.

The Program for the Show

With its wonderful new production of The 25th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee, TBTA may not be making any grand charitable acts.   However, what this “Bee” may lack in philanthropy, it more than makes up for in laughter.   Pure.   Simple.   Uproarious laughter.

“Bee” is an absolute gem of a musical.   It premiered on Broadway in 2005 and earned six Tony Award nominations.   It tells the story of a typical spelling bee with a cast of not-so-typical 12-year-old contestants, portrayed by adults.   The show is equal parts musical numbers and improvisational comedy.   Maureen Trotto, Director, explained that a large part of rehearsal time was devoted to developing the cast’s improvisational comedy skills.

But “Bee” is not all laughs.   The beauty of this work lies in its ability to balance the hilarious with the touching, the irreverent with the poignant.   Maureen Trotto’s goal was to “create an exciting yet uncomplicated evening of fun that would also be appropriately moving.”

And “Bee” lends itself perfectly to TBTA’s intimate space.   There is not a bad seat in the house, and its small-scale allows audience members to truly get to know each character in a way that is simply not possible in a larger house.   And for a few brave volunteers from the audience, they actually get to BE a part of the show… But I’ll let you discover that for yourself.

The opening night performance was pitch-perfect in every way.   The acting and singing were of extremely high caliber.   Each member of the cast completely inhabited their character.   The comedic timing was impeccable.   The energy was scintillating, but also gentle when needed.   Indeed, it is impossible to single out any one member of the cast, as each of them lovingly rendered their character in remarkable detail.   In short, it was a completely sparkling evening!

The 25th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee plays at The Brookfield Theatre for the Arts and for a sneak peak, and behind the scenes video click here!

Tickets cost $20 or $15 for students.   Tickets can be bought online or by telephone - (800) 838-3606.


Brookfield Theatre for the Arts

182 Whisconier Road, Brookfield, CT 06804

Theatre Office: (203) 775-0023

24/7 Ticket Hotline: (800) 838-3006


Upcoming Performances:

Thursday September 30, Friday October 1 and October 2, at 8PM

Sunday Matinee - October 3 at 2PM

Thursday October 7, Friday October 8, Saturday October 9, at 8PM

Sunday Matinee - October 10 at 2PM

Thursday October 14, Friday October 15 and Saturday 16, at 8PM

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