This article was published in The Appalachian.

Anopisthography. Filipendulous. Slubberdegullion. Xenobombulate. May I have a definition, please?

Laugh at spelling bees all you want, but for the kids who compete in them, the pressure is unimaginable. There is one chance to walk up to the microphone and spell one of the ridiculous (but real) words above. If you get it wrong, you’re out. End of story. Too bad.

That intensity is an entertainment goldmine. That is why spelling bees have been such a successful subject for various movies and for Theatre and Dance’s latest production, “The 25th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee.”

“Putnam County” opens April 13 at 7:30 p.m. in Valborg Theatre. Other performances will take place at the same time Thursday, Friday and Saturday, with a 2 p.m. performance on Sunday.

The PG-13 musical comedy tells the story of 10 middle-school-age spellers who are competing for a spot in the national spelling bee, according to a press release.

“Each participant has very unique reasons for competing and must face their own trials and turmoil during the competition,” Director Joel W. Williams said. “They are a collection of the usual ‘special’ breed of individuals committed to being the best spellers…while there is much humor in their stories, there are also poignant moments.”

Musical Director Joby R. Bell described the play’s 10 musical numbers as “unpretentious” and “lighthearted,” explaining that they add something new to the overall experience.

“The music is sort of its own world, oddly enough. I won’t say that it doesn’t fit the plot, but I will say that it adds another dimension,” he said.

Adding yet another dimension to the show is its unique form of audience interaction. Four audience volunteers will be selected to act as spellers in the bee. And take note, volunteers: the audience roles are not scripted, so you will be spelling those words by yourself.

“It’s very clever,” Bell said.

Tickets to “The 25th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee” are $15 for adults, $13 for faculty, staff and seniors, and $6 for students and youth. Groups of 10 or more receive a discount on regular prices. Tickets can be purchased at the Valborg Theatre box office from 2 to 5 p.m. Monday, Wednesday and Friday, and from 12 to 5 p.m. Tuesday and Thursday. Tickets can also be purchased one hour prior to each show, by calling 262-3063.

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