Every so often a theatrical property emerges which virtually catches fire with producing groups, such as "Steel Magnolias" or, more recently, "Proof." Currently the flavor of the month is the quirky musical "The 25th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee."
Already done several times locally, and ticketed for another outing in Westminster this month, the satirical spelldown is being conducted at the Huntington Beach Playhouse as a replacement for the previously announced but now unavailable "Fame." It should prove a popular substitution, regardless of its familiarity.
Created by committee (Rebecca Feldman, William Finn, Rachel Sheinkin and Jay Reiss), "Spelling Bee" lampoons the fervent competition among middle schoolers for a trophy, a $200 bond and bragging rights – currently enjoyed by the bee's ebullient hostess, who won the third annual competition. The students all could qualify for roles in a remake of "Revenge of the Nerds."
Director Austin Peay encourages outlandish individuality and his cast responds with unrestrained abandon in this latest version of the popular musical. It may be familiar territory, but it's still a kick to watch.