"The 25th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee" has been around the local block a few times, but its current incarnation at the Newport Theatre Arts Center is as fully realized a production as you're likely to encounter.
Superbly directed and choreographed by Kari Hayter, this "Bee" should generate a lot of buzz. It's a wildly comical musical with just enough heartfelt corn to formulate a satisfying repast, not to mention a cast of superior performers who gleefully push the envelope with outlandish characterizations.
Created by Rachel Sheinkin (book) and William Finn (music and lyrics) from an original concept by Rebecca Feldman, this "Bee" could be subtitled "Revenge of the Nerds" if that title hadn't already been claimed. If this show were real, high rollers at Orange County's Scrabble clubs would be shaking in their boots.
These kids can spell just about anything, but one by one they drop by the wayside until one emerges victorious. But it's getting to that point that's more than half the fun as these geeks, nerds and weirdos strut their considerable stuff.