Mishaps can't stump the troupers in'Spelling Bee'

Theater review

September 22, 2006|By J. Wynn Rousuck | J. Wynn Rousuck,sun theater critic

"Life is random and unfair," the cast of The 25th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee sings in a number called "Pandemonium." Live theater also proved pretty random Wednesday at the Hippodrome Theatre, where Spelling Bee launched the subscription season as well as the show's national tour.

But this musical - which began as an improvised sketch and includes audience interaction - is better equipped to handle pandemonium than most.

The first glitch came when the production's sound board crashed at the start of the performance. To keep theatergoers occupied while the sound system was repaired, Jennifer Simard, who plays the spelling bee host, taught the audience a Putnam Valley cheer. The problem was quickly fixed, but before long the actress portraying a contestant named Logainne was sidelined by a throat ailment. Her understudy, game Dana Steingold, who happened to be sitting in the audience, rushed into costume and was whisked on stage.

The 25th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee runs through Oct. 1 at the Hippodrome Theatre, 12 N. Eutaw St. $27-$72. 410-547-SEAT or broadwayacrossamerica.com.

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