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Rose-Hulman Drama Club’s production of The 25th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee

October 24, 2012

Six quirky characters combat adolescent angst in their quest to be the last speller standing inThe 25th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee. 

      Spelling Bees2
  Who Will Come Out On Top?  Six quirky characters covet for the championship in the Rose-Hulman Drama Club's production of The 25th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee on the Hatfield Hall Theater stage.

The musical comedy, winner of two Tony Awards, is being presented by members of Rose-Hulman Institute of Technology's Drama Club on October 26-27 and November 1-3 at 7:30 p.m. in the Hatfield Hall Theater.

The pressure is on when these six spellers go head-to-head for the prestigious country-wide championship. Each student has a set of issues, from speech impediments to overbearing parents; one speller relies on his "magic foot" to see him through; and another goes into a trance before each turn.

Although the musical is set in a middle school, explains Director of Student Productions Bunny Nash, patrons should consider the content to be rated PG-13. Laced with a few profanities and some adult humor, this spelling bee isn't suitable for younger audiences.

In a unique twist, cast members will be joined onstage by four audience members who've been invited to participate as if they, too, were vying for the championship, resulting in a hilarious interactive component.

Senior applied biology major Alex Cochrane plays Chip Tolentino, Boy Scout, crowd favorite, and previous bee champion who has returned to defend his title. This is the 10th drama club production for Cochrane, a Bloomfield, Indiana native who has also acted at Greene County's Shawnee Theater.

"I think I've done every show since I got here," stated Cochrane. "This is the first time I've had to portray someone 12 or 13 years old. I really like trying to portray a younger character" as opposed to the adult characters he's most often played.

Newcomer Samantha Staszak, of San Diego, California, plays the role of stereotypical Asian overachiever, Marcy Park. Pushed to succeed by her parents, Marcy is a recent transfer to the area who placed ninth in last year's National Spelling Bee.

Spelling Bees1       
Experienced Actor: Senior applied biology major Alex Cochrane plays a Boy Scout and previous spelling bee champion who returns to defend his title in the musical production. This is his 10th production with the Rose-Hulman Drama Club.


"I like to think that deep down inside she wants to be accepted by people," the freshman says of her character, "But, she thinks being accepted means she has to be the best."

Staszak, a software engineering and computer science major, may not be a national spelling champion like Marcy, but her vocal talent earned her a place on the National High School Honor Choir and performing at Carnegie Hall.

Now at Rose-Hulman, she is enjoying her first drama club production.

"I like that it has a lot of quirkiness. All the characters are really different but they're all kind of brought together by what they're doing," Staszak adds. "It's like a really weird coming-of-age tale for fifth graders"

Nash adds that although the characters are quirky, they're also relatable.

"When we did the read through, the kids recognized themselves in some of the characters. I recognized all of the personalities of these kids either from when my own kids were growing up, or with Rose-Hulman students…how competitive they can be and how funny that can be," stated the director.


The Rose-Hulman Drama Club will perform The 25th Annual Putnam County Spelling Beeon October 26-27 and November 1-3 at 7:30 p.m. in the Hatfield Hall Theater. Tickets are $15 for adults and $10 for students/youth. Note: This production contains adult language and mature themes. An equivalent movie rating would be PG-13. Advance tickets may be purchased by calling the Hatfield Hall ticket desk at (812) 877-8544 or visiting on weekdays from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m., and Saturday from noon to 5 p.m. Specific show information is available at