VAPA presents lighthearted musical comedy

Mallory Kaul

Music, laugh-out-loud comedy and heartfelt moments were on full display in Brown Auditorium for ULM’s production of “The 25th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee.” Outrageous characters and fast-paced humor paved the way for a spectacular performance.

Rachel Sheinkin’s comedy tells the story of six bizarre elementary school children, all competing with different motivations to win.

The nine-character cast offered nothing but strong, energetic actors who clearly loved and understood their roles. 

For a play featuring 20 songs, every singing voice in the cast was strong and practiced. The effort of the actors was palpable on stage. The sparse set perfectly emulated an elementary school gymnasium and gave the actors all the room they needed to fill the space with their huge personalities.

The audience gave a standing ovation at the close of the play. Victoria Steffins, an audience member and self-proclaimed musical enthusiast, enjoyed every bit of the show. 

“The soundtrack is phenomenal, and this cast did it so much justice,” Steffins said. “If you love funny songs done by great singers, then this is the show for you.”

Through the first half of the show, the actors had audience members come up on stage, where they could also participate in The Bee. Each chosen member from the audience had the chance to move on to the next round as long as they spelled their given word correctly.

Kate Cole, an English major at ULM, was one of the audience members that got to participate onstage.

“It was super fun,” Cole said. “I loved how lighthearted it was, even though it had some heartfelt moments.”

The actors and orchestra had as much fun making this play come to life as the audience had watching it. 

LeeAnn Hammons, who stole the show portraying the eleven-year-old Olive Ostrovsky, said she loved getting to know her character. 

“I’ve really come to love Olive during these three months of rehearsal,” Hammons said. “I love that every character of this play has their own storyline.”

Justin Havard, the director of the play, said he could not have been more pleased with the outcome of the show. 

“I have always loved this show, and I knew it would be a perfect fit for our students. It was a great choice for a spring musical,” Harvard shared. “These guys have worked so hard, and I am so proud of them.”