Ateneo Blue Repertory’s Spelling Bee: A-W-E-S-O-M-E Musical!

Ateneo Blue Repertory’s Spelling Bee: A-W-E-S-O-M-E Musical!

 

Ateneo De Manila University’s Blue Repertory is a theatre org known for doing renditions of well-known musicals. In the past, they’ve staged hits such as Tony Award winner Spring Awakening; musical-turned-movie The Little Shop of Horrors; and controversial pop opera Bare.

This time around, they’ve adapted the 2005 Broadway musical The 25th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee for their current production and I must say: they did an absolutely fantastic job of it! I loved every minute of it and was laughing the entire time!

Ateneo Blue Rep's Spelling Bee Musical

Ateneo Blue Repertory’s Spelling Bee: A-W-E-S-O-M-E Musical!

 

The musical follows the story of 6 elementary school children all competing at a spelling bee, each with their own eccentric personalities and back stories. There is also the host, the judge and ‘comfort counsellor’ (who are all also equally very wacky). The story takes place during the bee, from start to finish, and we get to experience exactly how competitive people can be at a spelling bee! More importantly though, we discover more about these kids, why they’re there, how they feel, and who they really are.

Ateneo Blue Rep's Spelling Bee Musical

The play itself was actually very simple: one act with only 9 actors for the whole thing (the same actors also had to play the minor characters) and 1 piano accompanying them in all their songs. It was only staged in a hall (not a big theater) and there were no set or costume changes, either. However, sometimes less is more and Spelling Bee proved just that within its short 1.5-hour running time! 

Ateneo Blue Rep's Spelling Bee Musical

First and foremost, I commend the actors of the show! Each and every one of them was brilliant! Although it may seem likely that the characters would go over the top and clash, this wasn’t the case for this production. Everyone was just the right amount of crazy. They were effortlessly funny and they were great singers to boot! Every punchline was delivered perfectly; the actors interpreted their roles precisely; and when they had to double as other characters, they still committed wholeheartedly!

Ateneo Blue Rep's Spelling Bee Musical

Even when they needed to be more emotional and subdued, they played their parts well. They would successfully move the audience and remind us that, beyond the gags and pranks, there is much more depth in every character. You could really tell that they were giving 110% and that they were very devoted to their roles. There’s nothing more you could ask for from the cast of a musical!

More than anything, their performance didn’t take away from the message of the story. In fact, they told it very well. Hats off to the cast: RJ Santillan,  Ale Reynoso, Jason Liwag,  Nikki Cadiz, Celine Bengzon, Gabbi Campomanes, Chandra Pepino, Kenneth Keng and Carlos Quiapo!

Ateneo Blue Rep's Spelling Bee Musical

One of the highlights of the play is how they encourage audience interaction in the form of ‘guest spellers’ (who also have to compete and prove they know a thing or two about spelling!). It was extra fun for us because the guest spellers of our show were very into it!

Ateneo Blue Rep's Spelling Bee Musical
Guest spellers among the cast

There were also a lot of other surprises during the play – some heartbreaking, some inspiring, most absolutely hilarious, but all definitely entertaining and enjoyable.

The direction, choreography, lights and music were all incredible, as well. I appreciated how everything seemed so effortless and smooth and that all of the different elements of the play wove together perfectly in this quirky, fun, but still touching musical. Kudos to the keyboardist, Alexa Sienes, who untiringly accompanied the cast in all of the musical numbers (flawlessly, I might add), and of course to the director, Andrei Nikolai Pamintuan, who brilliantly put together the entire show. Congratulations to all of the members of Blue Rep who worked on this production!

Ateneo Blue Rep's Spelling Bee Musical

Spelling Bee was definitely an unforgettable play, and had us smiling the whole way through, even after they sang their last “Goodbye”.

 

Ateneo Blue Rep’s Spelling Bee

 

July 29 , 30  and 31, and August 1 (all 8pm) and August 2 (8pm and 3pm)

Contact number:  (0917) 865-9637

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/blueREPERTORY

Past Blue Rep Productions:

Ateneo Blue Repertory Presents TOILET: the Musical
A New Brain: Ateneo Blue Repertory’s 22nd Premiere Production
Ateneo Blue Repertory takes you back in time with 13: the Musical

 

 

Ateneo Blue Repertory’s Spelling Bee: A-W-E-S-O-M-E Musical!






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