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Spelling Laughter and Heart: The 25th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee at Hayes Theatre

Get ready to laugh and be charmed as The 25th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee hits the stage at Hayes Theatre this September!

The hit show has captivated audiences worldwide with its uproarious humor and heartwarming storytelling since its premiere. Through the hilarious quirks of mid-pubescent teens competing in a spelling bee, the production delves into adolescence, parental approval, and first love. With a fresh take on the beloved musical, an outstanding cast brings their flair and vulnerability to the roles. The show promises innovative choreography and a unique perspective on the characters' motivations. After a decade-long absence, this heart-filled comedy is the perfect remedy, leaving audiences with laughter, joy, and a celebration of embracing one's quirks.

Directed by Dash Kruck, with Musical Direction by Abi McCunn, Choreography by Vi Lam and produced by Kayla French and Sarah Isaacs, there's sure to be plenty of laughs and plenty of heart for audiences.

Theatre Thoughts had the pleasure of hearing from the show's creators on what exactly you can expect this September at the Hayes Theatre.

The 25th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee - Hayes Theatre


The 25th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee has been a hit with audiences worldwide. What elements of the show do you think make it so universally appealing and riotously funny?

The genius of this show is that it doesn't try too hard to be funny. The hilarious comedy comes from the nuances and quirks of the characters themselves. I think we can all relate to being that kid growing up who felt on the outer because of something we liked, or the way we looked/sounded. Weirdly, oftentimes it's those exact quirks that become our greatest assets as we mature and embrace them. The great joy of this show is that we laugh with these characters (not at them) because, in a way, we can all see a little bit of ourselves in their quirkiness, and that familiarity allows us to laugh loud and laugh long.

The characters in the show are mid-pubescent teens competing in a spelling bee. How does the production explore themes of adolescence, parenting, and the competitive nature of spelling bees in a hilariously entertaining way?

The flush/terror of first love, the need to fit in, the unrelenting drive to make your parents proud. Makes you shudder just to think of it! The thing I love about Spelling Bee is that it doesn't shy away from any of these realities. There's awkwardness in them, yes, but they are all inherently funny! It's interesting that in this show, you're really cheering for the kids more than the parents. The parents are trying so hard to prove themselves and make their kids better than they were that they forget to just let them be kids. In a way, the kids teach us how to be better and give us hope for the future. We cheer their successes and we know that they'll learn from their failures.

The original production of The 25th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee had some notable stage superstars in the cast. How will this new production bring a fresh and exciting take on the show, and what unique elements do you plan to bring to the characters and storytelling?

Well, I'd like to clarify that. The original production had people in the cast who are superstars NOW. For many of them, this was their first big break! And to be honest, I can see the same thing happening with this production. We auditioned hundreds of people from all around Australia, and the cast we have assembled is incredible. Each one of them brings their own style, flair and vulnerability to the roles and I cannot wait for audiences to experience what they bring to this show. This production will have everything that audiences love about the original, but we're also trying to not make it a cookie cutter version that people have seen many times before. Prepare for a very different way of looking at the set, some exciting new choreography, and maybe a slightly different angle of looking at what these kids get out of this wacky spelling competition.

It's been over a decade since the show was last seen on a professional Australian stage. What made now the perfect time to bring back The 25th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee, and how will this production captivate and charm audiences in a whole new way?

The original Australian production (starring, among others, David Campbell, Magda Szubanski, and Marina Prior) absolutely delighted audiences with its humour and charm when it premiered seventeen years ago. As sensibilities and humor rapidly change, some modern comedy musicals can very quickly sour or become unpalatable. But the great and enduring thing about this show is that these characters, although quirky, are innately human, so it's not about making 'gag's' per se, but letting the situations and the characters drive the comedy. The audience is right there with them! (Some very much so...)

After a few years of uncertainty and stress, this heart-filled comedy is the perfect remedy. You can't help but leave the theatre on an absolute high! Audiences are going to cheer on and fall in love with this rag tag bunch of misfits, because, in the end, we all want to win at something, even if it's something as simple as spelling!


The 25th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee plays at the Hayes Theatre from 8th September 2023. Tickets can be booked via


Tue - Sat 7:30 pm

Thu & Sat 2:00 pm

Sun 5:00 pm

Music and Lyrics by William Finn, Book by Rachel Sheinkin and Conceived by Rebecca Feldman Additional Material by Jay Reiss Originally produced on Broadway by David Stone, James L. Nederlander, Barbara Whitman, Patrick Catullo Barrington Stage Company, Second Stage Theatre Licensed exclusively by Music Theatre International (Australasia)

Presented by September Remedy Productions in association with Hayes Theatre Co


Director Dash Kruck Musical Director Abi McCunn Choreographer Vi Lam Assistant Director Kira Leiva Set Designer Monique Langford Costume Designer Adrienne Andrews Lighting Designer Lucia Haddad Sound Designer Sam Cheng Production Manager Rebecca Kellahan Stage Manager Grace Sackman Assistant Stage Manager Aimee McQueen Producers Kayla French and Sarah Isaacs

Starring Axel Duffy, James Haxby, Adeline Hunter, Jessica Kok, Nathaniel Laga’aia, Rebecca Ordíz, Matthew Predny, Daniel Raso, Katrina Retallick, Cypriana Singh and Tyran Stig.


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