Review: The 25th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee (Toronto Youth Theatre)

By Sam Mooney

Toronto Youth Theatre

Yesterday I had one of those crappy days where all I wanted to do in the evening was watch a no-brain movie and eat ice-cream. Instead I went to see Toronto Youth Theatre’s production of  The 25th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee. Definitely the right choice.

Don’t worry if you don’t know the story-line of The 25th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee.  The title  says it all.  It’s a musical about a spelling bee. No angst, a few touching moments, but mostly just funny and entertaining.

If you haven’t been to a Toronto Youth Theatre show prepare to be blown away by the talent. The actors range from 14 to 20 years old and are so talented that I can’t wait to see them when they’re 30 and have some life experience added to the mix. Truly triple threats; they sing, they dance, they act. Very impressive.

The non-actors were impressive too. Four of the initial spellers are volunteers from the audience.  Don’t worry, they ask you in the lobby before the show, they don’t spring it on you in the theatre. Last night there were 4 men who were very good sports and got into character and interacted with the cast. The last man standing – as it were – was a good speller; it took 3 words in a row to eliminate him.

Apparently in a spelling bee you can ask for a definition of the word, to hear the word used in a sentence, and/or the etymology of the word. (Look.  I can spell. Thank goodness for spell check.) Some of the ‘use in a sentence’ examples were very funny.  I kept hoping that the contestants would ask for them.

I thoroughly enjoyed the show.  If you’re looking for something a bit different to do with your kids this weekend take them to see The 25th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee.  Probably not for kids younger than about 12.


The 25th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee is playing at the Lower Ossington Theatre (100 Ossington)
– It runs until May 28
– Shows are Wednesday through Saturday at 7.30 pm with Saturday matinees at 3.30
– Ticket prices range from $19.50 to $35.00
– Tickets are available online or at the door