By Travis Mounts
Argonia High School students will put on “The 25th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee” this weekend.
The comedy is the first Broadway musical that director Natalie Shirley recalls being staged by Argonia High School. Her recollection is that Argonia’s last school musical was by the junior high 10 years ago.
Part of the challenge is that Broadway musicals are expensive to produce, with the royalties normally beyond the reach of small schools. But a special program by one theater rights company gives a discount to schools with small populations. Additional resources also were made available.
“We had to find a musical to match our talent,” Shirley said.
There are 10 cast members – eight students and two faculty members. The identities of the faculty cast members are being kept secret.
The show will be at 7 p.m. this Saturday. Tickets are $5 at the door.
The script does not decide who the spelling bee winner is. Instead, that will be decided as the show goes along. Four audience members will be pulled into the show.
“And they have a chance to win, like everybody else,” Shirley said. “There’s a lot of ad-libbing and rolling with the punches.”
Students have had to learn music in addition to their lines, and must also be able to react and think on their feet since the show is not 100-percent scripted.
Three cast members are State forensics qualifiers, so Shirley is working with a talented cast. And most cast members never come off stage, so the show requires skill and endurance.
“Everybody’s really pulling their weight. When kids haven’t been on stage, they’ve been filling in in other ways,” she said.
Cast members are Hope Casner, Creek Love, Ross Carter, Aubreigh Haxton, Shelby Handlin, Savannah Shively, Jadyn Gallardo and Ryder Ragan. The crew includes Brady Roblin, Wesley Weishaar, Hayley Sprouse, Brayden Pierce, Emily Kesinger, Brooke Love, Alyssa Martin, Allie McCurley, Damien Smith and Aidan Kollmeyer.