Lees-McRae Summer Theatre is back for the 2021 season with “The 25th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee”

After a year-long hiatus due to COVID-19, Lees-McRae Summer Theatre returns June 19 with “The 25th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee.”

The Tony Award-winning musical comedy  tells the story of six spellers battling to earn the title of Putnam County M iddle School spelling bee champion. As the participants spell their way to the coveted championship trophy, they recount thrilling stories from their lives. This Tony Award-winning Broadway musical promises to give audiences a dose of deep laughter and childhood flashbacks.

Lees-McRae Summer Theatre managing director Gabriel Vanover describes the show as “exuberant.”

“When an audience comes to see ‘The 25th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee,’ they can expect laughter and joy,” said Vanover. “The play will take back audiences to their childhood, to the awkward moments growing up. The characters of the play also feel awkward and they end up finding a place to be themselves. I hope the audiences will share that joy.”

As in the original Broadway production, some audience members will be asked to come on stage and spell along with the cast. This peculiarity of the play allows for moments of improvisation and spontaneous humor, making each performance unique.

The 2021 season of Lees-McRae Summer Theatre comes after a more than one-year interruption due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

“It is great to be back,” commented Vanover. “This is the first time in over a year that I have been in a rehearsal room with a cast. Being able to rehearse again and having a whole group of people together (because we are all vaccinated and feel safe) have been great. I am hoping that the audience will feel safe and excited to be back at the theater, too.”

“The 25th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee” opens on June 19 with a 7 p.m. show. Additional shows will follow on June 22, 23, 24, and 26 at 7 p.m. and on June 20, 25, and 27 at 2 p.m. This production is rated PG-13 and is not recommended for young children.

The Summer Theatre Box Office will be open for in-person ticket sales from June 9 through August 1. The Box Office is located in the lobby of Hayes Auditorium. Regular Box Office hours are Tuesday through Friday from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. Hours vary on show days. Tickets may also be purchased online.

For the well-being of the Summer Theatre cast and patrons, COVID-19 safety protocols will be enforced. There will be mandatory temperature checks at the entrance of the theater. In addition, audiences are required to wear a face mask throughout the duration of the play. If you feel ill, please contact the Box Office to exchange your ticket for another performance.

For more information, visit lmc.edu/summertheatre.

By Juan Sebastian Restrepo ’21June 10, 2021