25th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee | Drury Lane Oakbrook Terrace | Theater & Performance | Chicago Reader
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25th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee 

When: Tuesdays-Sundays. Continues through Aug. 17 2014
Price: $40-$50
When ineptly done, this comedy about the competitive world of spelling bees can seem shallow, cloying, and, frankly, silly. But when it's performed by people willing to explore its darker themes—like the folks at Drury Lane Oakbook—the show succeeds in being both funny and insightful, packed with laughs and also, by the end, deeply satisfying. Fear, panic, insecurity, and loneliness power the humor here, and every moment in director Scott Calcagno's production feels honest and real, even the gimmicky use of audience members as some of the spelling bee participants. And when the show turns momentarily serious, we get sucked into the drama of likable, talented, but psychologically damaged whiz kids desperately trying to win to prove they're not the losers they secretly fear they are. —Jack Helbig



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