The 25th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee | Performing Arts Review | Chicago Reader

The 25th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee 

Sign up for our newsletters Subscribe

Dissonant is the word for this Broadway hit, now receiving its Chicago premiere from a local cast. The spelling-bee contestants inhabit a no-man's-land of age: the adults playing the kids, who unaccountably seem to range from 8 to 14, never come across as either flesh-and-blood nerdy grade-schoolers or witty adult takes on them. The setting is a homogenous small town, though audience-pandering jokes refer to Chicago. Worse, cartoonish characterizations by writers Rachel Sheinkin, William Finn, and Jay Reiss clash with attempts to tug at our heartstrings. Making up for all the weird disconnects, I guess, are the predictable parts: a monotonous contest format, racial and gender stereotypes, Finn's forgettable songs, and simplistic backstories and emotions. At this spelling bee, nobody wins. Open run: Tue 7:30 PM, Wed 2 and 7:30 PM, Thu 7:30 PM, Fri 8 PM, Sat 2 and 8 PM, Sun 2 PM, Sun 4/16, 2 and 7 PM, Drury Lane Theatre Water Tower Place, 175 E. Chestnut, 312-642-2000, $59.50-$69.50.

Support Independent Chicago Journalism: Join the Reader Revolution

We speak Chicago to Chicagoans, but we couldn’t do it without your help. Every dollar you give helps us continue to explore and report on the diverse happenings of our city. Our reporters scour Chicago in search of what’s new, what’s now, and what’s next. Stay connected to our city’s pulse by joining the Reader Revolution.

Are you in?

  Reader Revolutionary $35/month →  
  Rabble Rouser $25/month →  
  Reader Radical $15/month →  
  Reader Rebel  $5/month  → 

Not ready to commit? Send us what you can!

 One-time donation  → 

Comments

Subscribe to this thread:

Add a comment

Agenda Teaser

Galleries & Museums
September 10
Performing Arts
April 24

Popular Stories