West Potomac High School from Virginia, present their take on the popular one act musical comedy The 25th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee at this year’s Fringe and a more talented young cast you will be unlikely to find. Everyone of the thirty strong cast is superb and in character right from the off.
The story centres on the highly pressurised world of the American Spelling Bee and its eclectic contestants, odd parents and even odder organisers. Apart from being a solid hour of great entertainment, it touches on some of society’s deeper issues: same-sex parenting, depression and the relentless pressure from parents that can lead to young people rebelling against the system.
But ultimately it is funny. Very funny. From Leaf Coneybear (Julian Worth), a young man in a cape who is home-schooled and makes all his own clothes, to Logainne “Schwarzy” SchwartzandGrubenierre (Lorna Ryan), the youngest competitor in the Spelling Bee who suffers panic attacks thanks to her overbearing gay dads, all have their comedy moments and the professionalism with which they deliver their lines is commendable in performers so young.
The singing, too, is wonderful, adding a real energy to the show and the choreography, although basic, is in the main a welcome addition to the staging. Transitions are seamless and the largely American audience laugh out loud all the way through. Perhaps this is it’s one flaw: there are quite a few “in” American jokes which may be lost on some, but overall it’s a treat (T-R-E-A-T) and well worth seeing.