The trauma of a middle-school rite of passage will be recalled next week as the Bryan College Hilltop Players present "The 25th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee." The six-night production, opening Monday, includes dessert most nights and will be presented as a dinner show on Feb. 3.
Director Bernie Belisle said the story is built around six adolescents competing in the bee, which is run by three equally quirky adults, one of whom is a past winner of the bee who keeps reminding everyone of her triumph.
"The show received a couple of Tony Awards and was nominated for several others," Belisle said. "It shows how middle-school kids deal with issues in their lives, with spelling a stabilizing influence. The bee forces the overachieving 'outsiders' to examine themselves, their families and each other."
Spellers include Chip, a boy in early adolescence who is beginning to notice girls; Coneybear, an underachiever in a family of overachievers; Barfee, a boy who has been bullied all his life and has become a bully; Marcy, raised to be a perfect child but with a secret ambition not to win the bee; Olive, a girl with a missing mother and emotionally absent father; and Schwartzy, a girl being raised by two men.
"It's a wonderful show that the characters carry," Belisle said.
Area students appearing in the production include Ariel Bollant and Emilie Belisle of Dayton; Emily Moon and Ashley Boyd of Birchwood; and Dakota McClellan of Spring City.
IF YOU GO
* What: "The 25th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee."
* When: Dessert theater 7 p.m. Monday-Thursday and Feb. 4; dinner show 6:30 p.m. Feb. 3.
* Where: Brock Hall, Bryan College, Dayton, Tenn.
* Admission: $11 dessert theater, $20 dinner show; discounts for Bryan College community.
* Phone: 423-775-7500 (cash or check payment), 423-775-7271 (credit cards).
* Website: www.bryan.edu.