I’ve Never Been in a Church-nasium Before: Reflections on SPELLING BEE
"Adventurous theater in Astoria"

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I’ve Never Been in a Church-nasium Before: Reflections on SPELLING BEE

In her blog post, Artistic Director Dev Bondarin reflects on APAC’s current production of


Full Company. Photo by Michael Dekker.

When I first encountered The 25th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee in its original Off-Broadway incarnation, I didn’t know what to expect. A musical about a spelling bee that was also a spelling bee?!

I instantly fell in love with the show. I laughed out loud and was moved by the amount of heart in the production, not to mention how impressed I was by the writing and the specific and fully-realized performances of the original cast.

Fast forward to the summer of 2014 when I first entered     APAC’s theater space when it was not set up for a show. I immediately said, “You know what would be a great show in this space?” Annie Jacobs (APAC’s Production Manager) took the words right out of my mouth with the answer: The 25th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee!

At the bee, the young characters are faced with uncertainly and anxiety. Through the proceedings, the struggles and dreams of the participants are revealed and explored as they are alternately supported and discouraged by adults. We root for the contestants as they each take an important journey on this, the day of the bee.

And so here we are creating our site-specific set for our production of this well-loved show. Experiencing it anew with our stellar cast and wonderfully game and inventive production staff has been a joy and we have transformed APAC’s space once again–this time to look more like what it actually is: a gym!

For this, our final show of APAC’s landmark 15th Anniversary Season, I hope everyone can find a little bit of themselves in one of these lovable characters.


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