Director: Musical scheduled at Hendrix College will be f-u-n

By Tammy Keith Originally Published February 14, 2013 at 12:00 a.m.
Updated February 13, 2013 at 2:43 p.m.
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Kevin Spatz and Elizabeth Williams, both of Conway, rehearse a scene in the upcoming Hendrix College production of The 25th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee, directed by Ann Muse. The first of four free performances will begin at 7:30 p.m. Wednesday in the Cabe Theater on campus.

— In the Hendrix College production of The 25th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee, Elizabeth Williams of Conway plays a character with a last name that would test the best.

“She goes by Schwarzy, but if you want the full name, I’ve memorized it,” Williams said.

She spelled it: Logainne Schwartzandgrubenierre.

The musical comedy, which includes some audience participation — have no fear, it’s volunteer — opens at 7:30 p.m. Wednesday in the Cabe Theater at Hendrix College in Conway.

The play will also be performed at 7:30 p.m. Feb. 21 and 22 and at 2 p.m. Feb. 23. Admission is free.

Williams, a Greenbrier High School graduate and a senior theater major at Hendrix College, said she plays the youngest contestant.

“Most of the characters are between 11 and 13. I’ve set myself at being 9 or 10,” she said.

“It’s a pretty-good-sized role. I am the third person left in the spelling bee,” she said. “I won’t give away who the final two are.”

Williams, who moved from Vilonia to Greenbrier her last two years of high school, took drama classes at Greenbrier High School.

At Hendrix, Williams said, she has delved into several aspects of theater, from running the light board to designing costumes.

However, this is her first musical, she said.

“It’s a super-fun play, and I’ve really wanted to try my hand at being in a musical,” she said.

“I’ve been taking voice lessons the past couple of years. My big solo song is called ‘Woe is Me.’”

Kevin Spatz of Conway, a junior biology major at Hendrix, portrays spelling-bee contestant Chip Tolentino, who is “about 13 or 14,” he said.

Spatz’s minor is theater, and he has been in past productions at Hendrix.

“Actually, I hadn’t heard of [the play] before, but there was a lot of hype before auditions, people saying they were really excited about it, and a lot of people saying they were surprised Hendrix could afford the rights to it,” he said.

“It’s very funny,” he said.

Spatz, who said he sings

“decently,” admits that he isn’t much of a speller in real life.

“I was in a spelling bee once in elementary school, and I didn’t do very well,” he said. “I use spell check all the time.”

Williams, who is minoring in English, said the role is not much of a stretch for her.

“I’m a real grammar nerd,” she said, laughing.

“I used to love spelling. When I was little, I often participated in my school spelling bees, but I would always freeze up on a really easy word,” she said.

Williams and Spatz both pointed out that some of the songs performed in the production are bawdy.

“I’d say it’s a heavy PG (parental guidance),” Spatz said.

“It’s free and open to the public, and everyone should come because it’s going to be awesome,” he said.

Director Ann Muse, chair of the Hendrix College Theatre Arts Department, said the musical is fairly new, which is why some people may not have heard of it. The play is based on the book by Rachel Sheinkin, with music and lyrics by William Finn.

Muse described the play as “very silly and a lot of fun.”

“It’s very upbeat, very high energy, and there’s audience participation,” she said.

Muse also cautioned that the production isn’t for young children.

“It does have some adult language in it,” she said.

She said “reservations are probably best,” but not required. Tickets may be reserved at www.hendrix.edu/theatrearts.edu.

For more information, call (501) 450-1343.

Senior writer Tammy Keith can be reached at (501) 327-0370 or tkeith@arkansasonline.com.

Niche Publications Senior Writer Tammy Keith can be reached at 501-327-0370 or tkeith@arkansasonline.com.

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