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MoorArts Makes Audience Part of the Show—Literally

The organization's production of "The 25th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee" opens Friday at Moorestown High School.

takes audience participation to a whole new level with its production of The 25th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee, opening this week.

For the show—which according to a MoorArts’ release focuses on “a group of brainy middle-school misfits, each vying to emerge as the winner of the county spelling competition”—audience members will be seated on stage with the cast and four of them will be selected as “contestants” in the bee in advance of each performance.

“It’s a very intimate kind of stage setting. It’s a very different experience for us,” said communications trustee Candace Coleman.

MoorArts president Georgean Wardzinski said, due to the level of crowd interaction the play calls for, “Each show has its own unique appearance,” meaning literally no two shows will be the same.

MoorArts, which strives to diversify its musical offerings each year, chose Spelling Bee because it’s a very different kind of play from the more showy Hairspray, for example, which they put on last year, said Wardzinski. “We try to expose the community to every different kind of theater … It’s not a show everybody can do.”

Throughout the show, the spelling contest “evolves into a hilarious ménage of quirky personalities that are revealed in lively song lyrics and clever dialogue,” according to a release from MoorArts.

Wardzinski praised director Marc Dalio, a Broadway performer, for bringing the show together.

“He brings a wealth of knowledge and a different experience,” she said, adding, "It's a very talented cast, which you need (for this show)."

The nine-member cast is backed by live music provided by local musicians, including teacher Kristen Conrad.

Spelling Bee runs at 8 p.m. July 13-15, 18, 20 and 21; there is also a matinee at 3 p.m. Sunday, July 15. The show is recommended for audiences over the age of 12. The show will be held in the Moorestown High School auditorium.

Tickets are $17 general admission and $12 for senior citizens and students and are available for purchase online or at the door. Coleman said there are only 150 seats for the show—since the audience will be on stage and not in the crowd—so get your tickets now.

“Seating is limited, so we encourage people to buy their tickets in advance,” she said. “I think (the cast is) going to have a lot of fun with it. I think they’re looking forward to seeing the audience’s faces rather than just a blur.”

For more information, visit moorarts.org, call 856-778-6600, ext. 28033 or email moorarts@mtps.com.

Ann O Neemus July 13, 2012 at 05:09 AM
Of course no two shows will be the same... that's an inherent principle of theater. I hope MoorArts isn't just discovering this simple fact. DERP

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