Virginia Samford Theatre’s musical comedy will make you wish you were a spelling bee champ—find out why


Virginia Samford Theatre
The full cast is ready for an evening of singing and spelling at the VST. Photo via the Virginia Samford Theatre

Silence your phones and cue the lights because the curtains are rising on Virginia Samford Theatre’s production of The 25th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee, Oct.14-21. Want the inside scoop on what the show’s all about? We’ve got cast and director commentary + all the reasons why this is going to be a hilarious night of entertainment you can’t miss.

1. Introducing the show

Spelling Bee
Prepare for a night of laughs, pictured—Jake Wright as Leaf Coneybear. Photo via Jacob Blakenship for Bham Now

If you’re looking for a show that will be non-stop laughs with amazing music and audience participation, The 25th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee is the musical for you. Although the name might have you thinking otherwise, this is not your ordinary local Spelling Bee.

Though it does follow the set up of a Bee, this Tony award-winning show intertwines incredible songs and hilarious background stories to create a work of comedic genius worthy of its spot on Broadway.

The show opens with a group of six junior high students that truly characterize all of the insecurities and awkwardness of that mid-pubescent time in life.

“I think everyone can find something to relate to in this show because looking back we’ve all been where these kids are—having to struggle with the pressures and uncertainties of being in middle school.”

Jenna Bellamy, VST Director

Each participant has a distinct personality and spelling quirk that adds to the hilarious over-dramatization of the Bee. You’ve got the kid who always wears a cape, your classic overachiever and even a guy with a “Magic Spelling Foot”—you’ll just have to see the show for an explanation on that one.

What makes this show unique?

Virginia Samford Theatre
Who knew spelling bees could be so wild, pictured—Garrett Coppock as Chip and Allie Nichols as Logainne. Photo via Jacob Blakenship for Bham Now

An extremely rare quality that this show posses is its audience interaction. In most shows, the audience members are merely watchers and remain outside the world of drama unfolding before them.

Now you get to be part of the show. The 25th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee will call on audience members to spell words during the competition. Who they pick is completely random, so brush up on your spelling skills because you may become a temporary part of the cast for the night.

To add to the unique hilarity of the situation, this cast of adolescents is actually portrayed by adults. However, you’ll soon find yourself forgetting these actors aren’t actually kids. Their standout performances embody all the quirky features of their young characters.

Why you should see it?

Virginia Samford Theatre
Say hello to cast and crew—Jenna Bellamy pictured with cast. Photo via Jacob Blakenship for Bham Now

Director of the show Jenna Bellamy and a few cast members gave us their input on why this show is a must-see.

Jenna is the amazing director behind this Virginia Samford Theatre production. She guarantees a fun-filled night of comedy and top-notch musical talent.

With this show, you can expect a small cast of only nine people on stage. Jenna sees it as the perfect small-scale show that keeps everyone more safe while edging us back into bigger-scale productions. You also get to take the time to dive into each character’s background and get to know these spellers on another level.

Ruby Maghoney, who plays speller Marcy Park, is excited to get back to enjoying and participating in theatre post-pandemic. Look out for Ruby as she plays an overachieving girl who can speak six languages and isn’t allowed to cry. Here are Ruby’s thoughts about the show.

“It’s hilarious, entertaining and after the pandemic a lot of people haven’t seen theatre in a while so it’s really a refreshing show to get back into it.”

Ruby Maghoney, Cast Member

Paul Boyer plays Vice Principal Douglas Panch—a Bee judge returning after five years and a mysterious incident at his last Spelling Bee. Paul is ready for everyone to experience the insane musical talent of the actors in this performance.

“All these kids are incredible singers and it’s a fun time with amazing musical numbers that this cast really delivers.”

Paul Boyer, Cast Member

Whether you’re a long-time theatre lover who’s been patiently waiting for its return, or this is the first musical you’ve decided to see, The 25th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee is a perfect pick. So, grab your friends and family, buy your tickets and prepare to escape mundane life as you’re transported into this comical narrative.

Details to know

  • Show Dates: October 14-24
  • Times: Thursdays-Saturdays 7:30PM I Sundays 2:30PM
  • Ticket Prices: Reserved Seating Tickets—$43 I Student Tickets—$23
  • Theatre Location: 1116 26th St S, Birmingham, AL 35205

Reserved Seating Tickets can be purchased online while Student Tickets are only available at the box office.

The box office is located at the Virginia Samford Theatre front entrance.

What is the Virginia Samford Theatre

Virginia Samford Theatre
It’s show time at the Virginia Samford Theatre, pictured—Ava Williams as Olive Ostrovsky. Photo via Jacob Blakenship for Bham Now

The Virginia Samford Theatre is the oldest theatre in Birmingham. It opened back in 1927 and brought thought-provoking arts to the area.

Although much has changed in our city over the decades, The Virginia Samford Theatre continues to present outstanding shows and bring the community together through the performing arts. To learn more about the theatre, upcoming shows and auditions visit their website and follow them on Facebook and Instagram.

Are you as excited as we are to see The 25th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee? Let us know your thoughts by tagging us @bhamnow!

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Miranda Shaffer
Miranda Shaffer
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