By SHERIDAN ROY
Come one, come all, to the Steeple Players’ bold and hilarious upcoming show, “The 25th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee” performed at First Congregational Church of Southington.
The young teens vie for the spelling championship of a lifetime, while all along hinting at their own personal growing pains, home life, and struggles that come with puberty.
“I loved the message of the musical. The spelling bee is almost like an image of real life,” said director John Zimmerman. “They’re all struggling with different things at home and in life, and the spelling bee becomes their ‘thing,’ their way of distracting them from all this stuff that’s going on in their lives.”
With bold and specific personalities that play off each other, the nine-person theater group puts no member first. There is no “starring role.”
“The nine characters, they’re really all leads,” said Zimmerman. “That aspect is really important to the show.”
The performance keeps coming back to one thing: “life is pandemonium.” The performance hones in on the fact that being a teenager is full of unpredictable moments that become learning and growing experiences.
“They don’t yet know that the good don’t always win, so there’s nothing to say that’s true. How could they lose?” asks the comfort counselor at one point. “Tell them disappointment doesn’t last? But what I see is disappointment lasts like hell. Tell them words don’t matter? From what I see, words can get them killed.”
One cast member Katrina Lacombe said she has learned to become her character, not just act as her. Her character, Olive, learns to grow up on stage and has a “phenomenal change” by the end.
“She finds comfort in herself and in the things around her, not in people,” said Lacombe. “She has a very abusive home life, but she doesn’t let that stop her. She is so determined. Never mad, never extremely happy, just determined.”
The Steeple Players are a church-based drama group at First Congregational Church, but the players are not all necessarily church members, and anyone can come and view the show. The group typically puts on one to three shows each year—shows that include thought-provoking and relatable messages.
The group is a member ministry of the board of music and arts, and welcome all interested people to participate either on stage or in a support capacity. Their mission is to “provide fellowship for our church family and outreach for our community.”
The Steeple Players for this performance are composed of: Anna Haberski (who plays Rona Lisa Peretti), Isiah Jones (Douglas Panch), Julia Collins (Midge Mahoney), Katrina Lacombe (Olive Ostrovsky), Lauren Wiedenmann (William Barfee), Evelyn Micacci (Logainne Schwartz and Grubenierre), Sarah Ford (Marcy Park), Haley Andrews (Leaf Coneybear) and Connor Lincavicks (Chip Tolentino).
Show dates are Feb. 1, 2, 8 and 9, at 7 p.m., and a matinee performance on Feb. 3 at 2 p.m. Tickets are $15.50 and can be purchased online at fccsouthington.org/steeple-players.html
To comment on this story or to contact staff writer Sheridan Roy, email her at SRoy@SouthingtonObserver.com.