Sunday, May 27, 2007

Give This "Bee" an "A"

Saturday night, my lovely wife and I and a group of our friends went over to the Wadsworth Theatre in Westwood to see the Tony Award-winning musical, The 25th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee, starring the original Broadway cast. Now, as I believe I've mentioned on this here blog before, I'd already seen the Bee on Broadway, starring most of the same performers, in fact, but since the show is only in town for about a month, and since a whole bunch of my friends, including my lovely wife, had not yet seen it, I was more than happy to go again. Since, when I saw the Bee in New York, I was fortunate enough to be chosen as one of the guest spellers, I thought it might be nice to watch the entire show from the audience for a change. I'm glad I did.

T2APCSB, as I've now decided to refer to it, is a wonderful show, full of heart, insight, totally endearing. This original cast won a Tony Award for Best Ensemble Performance, with the amazing Dan Fogler also winning an individual Tony for Best Featured Actor in a Musical, and it's easy to see why they did. They imbue this lovable gang of social misfits with astonishing depth and complexity. After the final curtain, my friends all agreed that there wasn't one character in the show we had not gone to school with. They were all uncomfortably real.

The music for T2APCSB written by William Finn, who also did the music for Falsettos, A New Brain, and Elegies: A Song Cycle, was not particularly memorable, mostly working in service to the story, but the book by Rachel Sheinkin, with some nightly improv thrown in by several of the cast members, was terrific. I don't remember when I last laughed so hard in the theater.

The show is in town for most of the next month and, if you live in the Southern California area, I strongly recommend you go see it. You won't be disappointed.

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