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John Kinzer
IU Department of Theatre and Drama

Last modified: Tuesday, June 1, 2010

Professional actors from New York, Indy join IU students in 'Spelling Bee' at Brown County Playhouse

'25th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee' opens Brown County Playhouse season

WHAT: The 25th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee, conceived by Rebecca Feldman, book by Rachel Sheinkin, and music and lyrics by William Finn. Directed by Brown County Playhouse Producer and IU Professor Jonathan Michaelsen, chair of the IU Department of Theatre and Drama. Choreographed by Emmy Award-winner and IU Professor George Pinney, with musical direction by IU Assistant Professor and Music Director Terry LaBolt.
WHEN: Opens Thursday, June 10, at 8 p.m. with additional performances June 11-12, 16-19, 23-26, 30-July 3 at 8 p.m.; June 13, 19, 20, 26, 27 and July 3 and 4 at 3 p.m.
WHERE: All performances take place at the Brown County Playhouse, 70 S. Van Buren, Nashville, Ind. The Brown County Playhouse recommends this performance for audiences age 12 and above.
TICKETS: $22 regular admission and $15 for children and students. Flex Vouchers, 4 ticket vouchers for the price of 3: $44-$64. For ticket information, group rates, or to order flex vouchers call the IU Auditorium at 812-855-1103 or Brown County Playhouse at 812-988-2123, or get details and buy online at

June 1, 2010

NASHVILLE, Ind. -- Indiana University's Brown County Playhouse opens its summer season of professional theater Thursday, June 10, with the Tony Award-winning musical The 25th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee. The production showcases professional actors from Broadway alongside students and recent graduates of IU's Department of Theatre and Drama.

Brown County Playhouse Rehearsal

Photo by Aaron Bernstein

Broadway performer Susan Owen (currently on hiatus from "Phantom of the Opera" on Broadway), left, rehearses songs for "25th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee," the opening show of the Brown County Playhouse Season, with IU student performers. The season opens June 10 in Nashville, Ind.

Print-Quality Photo

Hailed by The New York Times as "effortlessly endearing," Bee tells the tale of six young outsiders in the throes of puberty who compete for the spelling bee championship of a lifetime. Overseen by grownups who barely managed to escape childhood themselves, the contestants begin to learn that winning isn't everything -- and that losing doesn't necessarily make you a loser. Four lucky spellers will be chosen from the audience at each performance to join in the contest on stage.

Taking a short leave from her role as Christine in Phantom of the Opera on Broadway, Susan Owen makes her debut at the Brown County Playhouse as Rona Peretti. Fresh from another production of Spelling Bee in Florida, Erick Pinnick makes his Playhouse debut as Mitch Mahoney. Pinnick, also a Broadway veteran, played Walter Payton in The Tin Pan Alley Rag, and toured in Sunset Boulevard and Jesus Christ Superstar.

Joining Owen and Pinnick in the ensemble are Brown County Playhouse veterans Lovlee Carroll (Suds, The All Night Strut!), Henry A. McDaniel III (Present Laughter), Russell Stout (The All Night Strut!) and Mandy Striph (The All Night Strut! and There Goes the Bride). Making their Brown County Playhouse debuts are Matt Birdsong, Stephanie Cohen and Matthew Martin. Birdsong previously appeared in the Lee Norvelle Theatre and Drama Center's production of Blood Brothers and A Little Night Music, while Cohen appeared in The Wild Party and Oklahoma!, and Matthew Martin in Seussical the Musical, Hamlet, The Seagull, A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Forum, A Little Night Music and as Jean Paul Marat in Marat/Sade.

Terry LaBolt

Photo by Aaron Bernstein

Terry LaBolt leads performers through rehearsals for "Spelling Bee," opening June 10 at Brown County Playhouse.

Print-Quality Photo

Brown County Playhouse Producer Jonathan Michaelsen directs Bee, Emmy Award winner George Pinney choreographs and Terry LaBolt directs the music. Joining this trio are scenic designer Katie McDermott, lighting designer Chris Wood, costume designer Robbie Stanton and sound designer Colin Shay. Joining the Brown County Playhouse stage management staff of Christopher Lee and Joe Fernandez is Indiana Repertory Theatre resident stage manager Nathan Garrison.

For more information, see