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Local celebrities join award-winning Broadway musical

Feb. 8, 2009

KALAMAZOO--Broadway's Tony Award-winning musical comedy "The 25th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee" will visit Western Michigan University's Miller Auditorium for two performances Wednesday and Thursday, April 22-23. Both shows begin at 7:30 p.m.

Purchase tickets online

Kalamazoo Gazette film critic James Sanford and WMU President John M. Dunn will make special appearances as celebrity spellers in the bee. Sanford will join Wednesday's performance and Dunn will take the stage Thursday.

In "Spelling Bee," six young people in the throes of puberty, overseen by grown-ups who barely managed to escape childhood themselves, learn that winning isn't everything and that losing doesn't necessarily make you a loser. The tuneful, offbeat show offers audience members the opportunity to become part of the action as on-stage spellers.

The Wall Street Journal called "Spelling Bee" "perfect in every possible way," and the New York Times said of the production: "Can you spell i-r-r-e-s-i-s-t-i-b-l-e? 'Spelling Bee' is riotously funny and remarkably ingenious. Gold stars all around."

"Spelling Bee" is based on "C-R-E-P-U-S-C-U-L-E," an original play by the Farm improv group in New York City. It had its world premiere in July 2004 at Barrington Stage Company in Sheffield, Mass. Under the direction of James Lapine, the production officially opened off Broadway at Second Stage Theatre, where it ran from January through March 2005. The show then moved to Broadway's Circle in the Square Theatre, with an official opening May 2, 2005. The Broadway production closed last January.

"Spelling Bee" is directed by Tony Award and Pulitzer Prize-winner James Lapine. The musical, conceived by Rebecca Feldman, with additional material written by Jay Reiss, features music and lyrics by Tony Award-winner William Finn and a Tony Award-winning book by Rachel Sheinkin. The production features scenic design by Beowulf Boritt, costume design by Jennifer Caprio, lighting design by Charlie Morrison, sound design by Craig Cassidy and choreography by Dan Knechtges.

"The 25th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee" at Miller Auditorium is part of the Broadway in West Michigan Series. Tickets go on sale Friday, Feb. 13, and range from $25 to $50. They are available by calling (269) 387-2300 or (800) 228-9858, online at millerauditorium.com, or by visiting the Miller Auditorium Ticket Office or Epic Center Box Office in downtown Kalamazoo. Groups of 20 or more should call (269) 387-2312 for special discounts.

For more information, visit "The 25th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee" online.

Media contact: Bethany Gauthier, (269) 387-2245, bethany.gauthier@wmich.edu

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