The drama department at Bishop Noll Institute is happy to welcome everyone back to the theater with their annual Spring play, with this year’s production bringing some of the quirky characters from Putnam County to the stage. An adaptation of the musical, 25th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee, the show follows a quirky group of adolescents as they compete for honor and glory in their local county spelling bee, learning a little something about themselves along the way.
Kayla Konkle, director and theater leader at Bishop Noll, says that the characters in the play are unique and unusual.
“These are just some of the wackiest kids ever,” Konkle said. “They treat this spelling bee like it’s the Super Bowl. We break the fourth wall often, and have a lot of fun with that.”
Konkle said that this year’s play was a bit of a challenge, with preparations for the play being pushed back to February due to COVID-19.
“We usually start during Christmas break, but due to the start of the school year being pushed back, we actually didn’t start rehearsals until February. We’ve been going hard since then and I think we’re ready.”
BNI sophomore Ayanna Wash plays Leaf Coneybear, an enigmatic contestant with wildly curly hair crammed underneath a plastic helmet who makes his own clothes and somehow manages to spell even the toughest of words.
“Leaf is just this really cool, really snazzy kid,” said Wash. “He is home-schooled and he actually did not win his school’s spelling bee. He was the 2nd runner-up but, because the other two winners couldn’t make it, he was invited to the Putnam County Bee.”
Wash said that her character struggles with self-confidence.
“He’s easily distracted. He’s been told all his life that he’s not very smart, and he kind of believes it, but he slowly realizes that he actually is smart and he makes friends along the way.”
Joining Wash are a cast of characters, including Abigail Wojtaszek, a junior at the school, who plays Logainne Schwartzandgrubenierre, and Indigo Moore, playing Olive Ostrovsky.
“Logainne is the daughter of two moms who are very pushy about her being the very best at everything she does,” said Wojtaszek. “She is the youngest speller at the bee and she is ready to take it all!”
Moore, a freshman from Whiting, is enjoying her first year at BNI.
“I’m having a good time. I’ve made a lot of good friends here and even convinced the theater teacher here to do this play, because it’s my favorite show of all time,” said Moore.
Moore plays Olive Ostrovsky, whose mother is currently on an ashram in India and probably won’t ever be coming home. Olive saved a seat for her father, who is also not at the bee to support her.
“It’s very bittersweet for Olive, but she stays positive and even finds a place to thrive.”
“I love that this show embraces being different. I love that it lets the characters be weird, be themselves without making fun of any of them,” said Moore.
Held in Bishop Noll’s beautiful auditorium, attendance is limited to just 75 people per performance, with social distancing and masks required. Tickets for the play are already sold-out, but anyone interested in seeing the play can still stream the live performance for just $6 this weekend at https://bnidrama.anywhereseat.com/. Upcoming showtimes are Saturday at 7:30 and Sunday at 2:30.
For more information about Bishop Noll Institute, you can check out their website at https://www.bishopnoll.org/