The 25th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee
University of Cincinnati's College - Conservatory of Music
Fall 2023
Production Team
Director | Chaz Wolcott
Musical Director | Steve Goers
Sound Designer | Kaitlin Barnett
Lighting Designer | Jessica Drayton
Production Stage Manager | Sarah Patisaul
Costume Designer | Corey Cochran
Scenic Designer | Regan Densmore

Photography: Mark Lyons

The 25th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee is a fast paced and humor filled show about 6 kids vying to win a spelling contest. . On the surface, the story focuses on winning the spelling bee, but underneath that we get stories revolving around the everyday lives of students and their stresses, parental expectations, and growing up.

Since the show revolves around the spelling bee, and the nature of the audience participation, there will be a microphone downstage center for everyone the “spell” at. This area is going to be the theoretical “hot seat” in which the pressure of the competition is the greatest. My aim to make this spot be a different “world” than the rest of the show. These moments are when the character is most alone, and so I want to isolate this sound away from the main world. This idea will play into the design of the overall system. The “main” world is going to be an LCR system with vocals being in the center with a band left/right. For the “competition world” we will have a separate sound system that will live lower to the floor, and act as the sound system in the school gymnasium. This will only be used during the “hot seat” moments when anyone is spelling into the downstage center microphone. To emphasize that this competition is in a gym, I want to play with rear “reverb” speakers placed around the curve of Cohen behind the playing space of the stage to emulate an echo-y gym.

My goal for this production is to play into the intimacy of the show and the space. I want a sound system to support the emotional moments and for audiences to be able to hear and connect with these characters and their struggles and feel like they are a part of this contest (because they actually are). The “hot seat” moments are meant to place the audience into the head of the character spelling, and to have them experience the pressure and anxiety of being put on the spot in a competition.
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