Woodstock Opera House: the place to ‘Bee’ in March

Online Staff Report

WOODSTOCK, Ill. — The joys and agonies of being a smart adolescent, along with outrageous humor, catchy music, audience volunteers, and the who-will-win nervousness of a spelling bee competition all come together in the next musical production from TownSquare Players: The 25th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee.

This 2005 Tony Award-winning show about six quirky contestants and three equally original adults running the spelling bee makes its Woodstock Opera House premiere March 8-24. The production from McHenry County’s oldest community theater group is spearheaded by Roger Zawacki (director, co-producer), Rosemarie Aiello (music director), Maggie McCord (choreographer) and Paul Lockwood (co-producer).

The musical stars a talented cast from throughout northern Illinois, including: Jimmy Lundstrom (Mitch Mahoney) of Barrington; Tim Vance (Vice Principal Doug Panch) of Carpentersville; Melina Rey (Marcy Park) of Harvard; Joel Bennett (Chip Tolentino) and Carrie MacDonald (Rona Lisa Peretti), both of McHenry; Scott Bussert (William Barfee) of South Elgin; Dayna Palya (Logainne Schwartzandgrubenierre) of Spring Grove; and Jessica Buehler (Olive Ostrovsky) and Daniel Rosenfield (Leaf Coneybear), both of Woodstock.

One unique aspect of the show is that selected volunteer audience members will have the chance to be a part of the show and compete in the spelling bee on stage. Those who are interested are invited to arrive at the theater 45 minutes before the start time of the performance and complete a short form. Staff will be on hand near the Opera House entrance to meet with volunteers; those who are selected will be announced approximately 20 to 30 minutes before the show so they can receive instructions.

One of the four audience members in each show will be a pre-selected area celebrity. Those scheduled include the following:

• Friday, March 8 — Woodstock High School Principal Corey Tafoya;

• Saturday, March 9 — Woodstock Independent Publisher Cheryl Wormley;

• Sunday, March 10 — Two-time National Spelling Bee contestant and Immanuel Lutheran seventh-grader Lucas Urbanski of Crystal Lake;

• Friday, March 15 — Woodstock Mayor Brian Sager;

• Saturday, March 16 — McHenry County College President Vicky Smith;

• Friday, March 22 — McHenry County Associate Judge Robert A. Wilbrandt Jr.; and

• Sunday, March 24 — Long-time editor/managing editor of the Northwest Herald, Dan McCaleb.

Additional staff members include: Mark Dice, stage manager; David Baker, technical coordinator; Patty Halajian, costume designer; Dan Aiello, set construction; Dan Aiello and Roger Zawacki, set design, Jimmy Lundstrom, sound designer; Deb Holmen, lighting designer; Greg Boyd, lighting technician; Katelin Stack, properties manager; and Virginia Zymonas, hair and makeup designer.

The musical was conceived by Rebecca Feldman, with music and lyrics by William Finn and a Tony Award-winning book by Rachel Sheinkin. Additional material was provided by Jay Reiss, who played the role of Doug Panch in the show’s initial off-Broadway and Broadway runs. The show has a PG-13-type rating.

Performances are scheduled for Fridays and Saturdays at 8 p.m., and Sundays at 3 p.m., March 8-24. To purchase tickets, go to www.woodstockoperahouse.com, call the Woodstock Opera House box office at (815) 338-5300, or visit the box office. Group discounts are available.

Posted March 6, 2013

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