The 25th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee Visits Malden High School

Banner of the 25th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee hung above the stage during the performance. Photo taken by Grace Stathos.
By AMANDA MORAES and GRACE STATHOS Dedication: noun. A devoting or setting aside for a particular purpose. Such is the case of  Malden High School’s Play Production class, who, three times a year, performs their plays for all of MHS and Malden to marvel at. But of course, in order to produce a product as stellar as they do, hard work and dedication is a must.  This year, the 25th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee came to MHS on Nov. 16, 2012 and Nov. 17, 2012. The play, which takes place completely during the bee, comically features the struggles and hardships of various characters, which for various reasons have ended up at the bee, viciously competing with one another for the $200 dollar cash prize.  The main characters were played by senior Jonathan Drapinski and junior Jessie Memmolo, who are the last contestants of the bee and must fight their budding attraction for each other in order to be successful and win the bee. An innovative and creative part of the play, one which was very memorable for many of those who went to see the play, was the audience participation. At the beginning of the play, Ms. Paretti, played by senior Christy Ringdhal, called up audience members who “had not yet checked in” to the bee. On opening night, audience members who participated included Mayor Gary Christenson, math teacher  Christopher Giordano,  sophomore Jessica D’Esposito,  and sophomore Victoria Hannafin. Before being called on stage, they were given instructions in order to keep the play running smoothly. According to senior Will Lombard, who plays Chip, a spelling bee contestant, “on the first day of class, [Play Pro director Sean Walsh] tells [the class] when auditions are… and then we have vocal auditions and singing auditions, and shortly after that, [Walsh] casts the play.”  Rehearsals after school were from Monday to Friday until 3 PM in the afternoon and almost all Saturdays, usually from 8 AM to 12 PM Sophomore Angelica Carberry stated that “[she does not] like getting up on Saturdays” but since the choreographer came on Saturdays, missing rehearsals was “not an option.” Two weeks before the show however, rehearsals were every day, with the exception of Sundays, and Saturday practices were from 8 AM to 9 PM at night. Sophomore Michelle Foley shares similar sentiments, and said that “the show came out great,” but not without some moments of “minor panic,” according to Foley. At one point, the microphones were malfunctioning, which interfered with the sound, and made it difficult for the audience to hear, and “the props also had to be in the correct place at the correct time to ensure that everybody would have access to the props when they needed them,” explained Foley. Of course, with all of this time and effort put into the result, it was worrisome to many when tickets were not selling during lunches, as they had expected. Junior Jason Drapinski stated that “[they] all began to think of creative ways to sell the tickets,” such as wheeling the sign, which had previously been on display in the main office, through the cafeteria in hopes of attracting students. As stated by Senior Simon Rogers who plays Leaf Coneybear, another speller, performing in the musical is “the same feeling you have… with sports… and our play would be like a game, where we just go out there and perform for everybody, and in the end, [it is] all really rewarding.” Preparations for the second play have already begun, and the class has already started brainstorming for the original play, which they will write. This play, unlike the 25th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee, will not be a musical. The class will also be preparing for Drama Fest, in the hopes of making it as far as they did last year by making it to finals, and hopefully bringing home a victorious title.

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