Thursday, March 02, 2006

Theatre That Is Making Me Happy Today, vol 2

The 25th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee at the Post Street Theatre

Well, now isn't this just the cutest little musical I have ever seen.

I must admit, I went into Spelling Bee with fairly low expectations. It looked a little dumb to me, and I have seen some bad musicals in my time. But I had media passes of my own, and I am not one to turn down a theatre opportunity. Well, as it turns out, I was quite pleasantly surprised. Hysterically funny and a little poignant, Spelling Bee had me laughing out loud and at times a little choked up. Yes, I said choked up; any story about kids has the potential to get to me. In fact, when I saw Spellbound, that documentary film about kids in the National Spelling Bee, I didn't just get choked up... I folded like a cheap paper airplane under the pressure of watching kids under so much pressure and cried. Hard.

But back to the musical comedy about spelling. There are shows out there that can be called "better." Nine Parts of Desire, for example, which is running for a couple more days at Berkeley Rep (see February 11th post). And Spelling Bee is unlikely to change anyone's life. But I have learned that it takes talent and artistry to create fun theatre, and the high caliber singing and acting in this show, including what must be some improvised lines, work together to produce an incredibly enjoyable experience. And while I imagine a few of my theatre-snob friends would dismiss this show, I say there is no crime in entertainment for entertainment's sake. Some local references have been infused into the story, and I think at least one of them is a little over the top, but that's my only criticism.

My super-talented actress friend Mary also really enjoyed Spelling Bee. And she recently had free tickets for Cats but hated it so much that she walked out in the middle of the first act. So there you go, Spelling Bee really is better than Cats.

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