The 25th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee

On Tuesday evening, students and faculty gathered behind Schoolhouse for an exclusive viewing of this year’s spring production. Foxcroft Mainstage students worked extremely hard to produce a hilarious rendition of The 25th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee led by Director Karin Thorndike and Assistant Director Julia G. ’21, as part of her Fine Arts concentration.
To set the tone for the production, students and faculty went head to head spelling words like “cow,” “capybara,” “coryza,” “vulpine,” “crepuscule,” “strabismus,” and “weltanschauung.” Then it was on to the main event! Based on C-R-E-P-U-S-C-U-L-E by Rebecca Feldman, The 25th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee follows a group of students from various backgrounds competing to win the Putnam County Spelling Bee. The cast, jokes, musical numbers, costumes, and script made for a really amazing show. If you have not had the chance to see it, please use this link to do so. 

After the screening, seniors were celebrated as this was their last show at Foxcroft. Teagan S., Hays T., Jennifer C., and Julia G. worked tirelessly on this musical and their dedication and talent showed throughout the production. 

The cast then led a Q&A segment. Members of the audience asked about memorizing their lines and the spellings of the really difficult words. Chelsie E. ’22 reflected that “remembering the origin of the words was the hardest part.” She also mentioned struggling with the pronunciation of “optometrist” — and how her cheat sheet with the words, definitions, phonetic spellings, and more helped a lot!

Assistant Head of School Courtney Ulmer asked the students to reflect on the difference between putting on a show during the pandemic versus a normal school year. “The acting style required for stage acting is very different,” said Jennifer C. ’21. And Julia G. ’21 explained that, with filming their performances, they lost the live audience component. “The day of the show, your adrenaline is rushing. The level of excitement around people being there means a lot.” The cast ended up adding characters to the play to make up for the lost audience interaction.

The tech crew members reflected on running tech for the musical. With the year starting off virtually, they created stage blocks on sheets of paper and shared them over Zoom with the cast during rehearsals. Once back in person, things continued to be refined with each practice — even if a bit differently than it typically looks in FoxHound Auditorium. Hays T. ’21 mentioned, “As stage manager, I was calling warnings and cues from the light booth, so I was able to watch the show from the perfect view every night it was performed. I really enjoyed the fact that I never became tired of the show.”

And if you were wondering how to create a lisp, Caroline M. ’22 explained that adding a “th” to any word with an “s” will work. She perfectly executed a lisp for her character Logainne Schwartzandgrubenierre.

During the Q&A session, Ms. Thorndike described how they decided to make the show connect with Foxcroft. They developed their own understanding of events taking place during the show, while also being cognizant of the space and place we live in during a global pandemic. "We approached doing a musical with a ‘can do’ yet cautious attitude,” she reflected. “Though we knew there was the possibility that we would be distance learning and not be able to rehearse in person, we went ahead and chose to do The 25th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee because it suited our students and would be fairly simple to block according to our COVID requirements.” 

Persevering through challenges, the show was a highlight of the spring semester for many. “The final result was a really tight show and a cast that bonded strongly due to their shared experiences,” offered Ms. Thorndike in closing. “I am so proud of each and every member of the cast and crew for their hard work and resilience all semester.” 
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An all-girls boarding and day school in Northern Virginia, Foxcroft prepares young women in grades 9-12 for success in college and in life. Our outstanding academic program offers challenging courses, including Advanced Placement classes and an innovative STEM program. Our premiere equestrian program is nationally recognized, and our athletic teams have won conference and state championships. Experience the best in girls' boarding schools: visit Foxcroft.