6 cartoon adolescents sitting under a banner that says The 25th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee

Licensed image courtesy of Music Theatre International.

The 25th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee

November 7-23, 2024

Winner of the Tony Award and the Drama Desk Award for Best Book.

Music & Lyrics by William Finn | Book by Rachel Sheinkin
Conceived by Rebecca Feldman | additional material by Jay Reiss.
Guest Director & Choreographer: Jacques Lemay
Music Director: Stephanie Sartore

Originally Directed on Broadway by James Lapine.
Originally produced on Broadway by David Stone, James L. Nederlander, Barbara Whitman, Patrick Catullo, Barrington Stage Company, Second Stage Theatre.

Presented by special arrangement with Music Theatre International. All authorized performance materials are supplied by MTI. www.mtishows.com.

A hilarious and heartwarming musical, The 25th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee takes audiences on a whimsical journey into the competitive world of spelling bees. Set in a small town, the story follows an eclectic group of six adolescents as they vie for the coveted title of spelling champion.

These quirky characters spell their way through a series of challenging (possibly made up!) words, hoping to avoid the dreaded “ding” of elimination. Along the way, they share touching and wildly funny stories from their home lives. With catchy tunes, unexpected twists and audience participation, this fast-paced gem is a riotous ride that has charmed audiences worldwide.

Jacques Lemay, Guest Director & Choreographer

Mr. Lemay is a celebrated Producer/ Director/ Choreographer/ Fight Director of operas, ballets, concerts, musicals, multicultural productions, royal galas, variety shows, and television productions. He is equally at home working with solo artists, or creating, producing and directing large-scale international ceremonies for Olympic Games, Commonwealth Games, Royal Visits or Canada Games.

Fluent in English and French, he has worked extensively throughout North America and in Europe. His works have been seen around the globe. He is also in demand as a teacher, adjudicator, creative advisor and lecturer.

Cited source: Jacques Lemay’s official website

Full bio

Play Background

Initially, The 25th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee started as a non-musical play, entitled C-R-E-P-U-S-C-U-L-E, done by the improvisational group “The Farm.” One of the performers in the play, Sarah Saltzberg, happened to be the nanny of playwright, Wendy Wasserstein. Impressed by what she saw, Wasserstein suggested to friend, William Finn, that he may be able to take the show to the next level. Finn, his former student, Rachel Sheinkin, and C-R-E-P-U-S-C-U-L-E creator, Rebecca Feldman, worked together to turn the piece into a full-length musical.

Cited source: Music Theatre International

The Farm Improv Collective

The Farm was founded in 2000 by Rebecca Feldman, Artistic Director. It is a collective of writers and performers, including Jay Reiss, Dan Fogler, and Sarah Saltzberg. The Farm’s interest is in the role of improvisation in creating new work for the theatre. The Farm initially designates a two-week intensive period in which to discover, develop, and rehearse a play from the impulses borne mainly out of the pressure of a deadline. Previous projects include Super (at Atlantic Theatre Studios), Why I Hate Florida (workshop at White Wave in DUMBO) and “C-R-E-P-U-S-C-U-L-E” (at the Present Company Theatorium in October 2002), on which The 25th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee is based. The characters and original dialogue of “Beth Marguiles,” “Vice President Douglas Panch,” “Mr. Barfee,” and “Logan Schwarzengrubenierre” were created by Rebecca Feldman, Jay Reiss, Dan Fogler, and Sarah Saltzberg, respectively.

Rachel Sheinkin, Author

Photo of Rachel SheinkinBroadway: The 25th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee (Tony, Drama Desk awards); Off Broadway: Striking 12 (Lucille Lortel nomination), Off-Off: Serenade. Regional: Guthrie, Little House on the Prairie; Center Theater Group, Sleeping Beauty Wakes (Los Angeles Ovation Award); London: Blood Drive. Residencies, fellowships, commissions include: Eugene O’Neill National Theater Center, Baryshnikov Dance Foundation, MacDowell Colony, Manhattan Theatre Club, Deaf West, McCarter Theatre, Playwrights Horizons.

Rachel is a volunteer mentor for TDF’s Open Doors program, a visiting instructor at Yale School of Drama, and adjunct faculty member of NYU’s Graduate Musical Theater Writing Program.

Cited source: Music Theatre International

William Finn, Music & Lyrics

Photo of William FinnMr. Finn is the writer and composer of Falsettos, for which he received two Tony Awards, Best Book of a Musical (with James Lapine) and Best Original Score. He has also written and composed In Trousers, March of the Falsettos and Falsettoland (Outer Critics Circle Award for Best Musical, two Los Angeles Drama Critic’s Awards, two Drama Desk Awards, the Lucille Lortel Award, and Guggenheim Fellowship in Musical Composition). Mr. Finn wrote the lyrics to Graciela Daniele’s Tango Apasionado (music by the great Astor Piazzolla) and, with Michael Starobin, the music to Lapine’s version of The Winter’s Tale. His musical Romance in Hard Times was presented at the Public Theater.

Recently, he wrote Painting You for Love’s Fire, a piece commissioned and performed by the Acting Company, based on Shakespeare’s sonnets. For television, Mr. Finn provided the music and lyrics for the Ace Award-winning HBO cartoon “Ira Sleeps Over,” “Tom Thumb and Thumbelina,” “Pokey Little Puppy’s First Christmas,” and, with Ellen Fitzhugh, two “Brave little Toaster” cartoons. Mr. Finn has written for Vogue, Harper’s Bazaar, and The New Yorker. A graduate of Williams College where he was awarded the Hutchinson Fellowship for Musical Composition, Finn now teaches a weekly master class at the NYU Tisch Graduate Program in Musical Theatre Writing. His most recent projects include Elegies, A Song Cycle (Lincoln Center) and The 25th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee, which ran on Broadway and has been produced nationally and internationally, as well.

Cited source: Music Theatre International

Rebecca Feldman, Conceiver

Rebecca Feldman photoRebecca Feldman is the conceiver of The 25th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee for which she won a Lucille Lortel Award, Drama Desk and Tony Nomination for Best Musical. She directed its world premiere at Barrington Stage Company in the summer of 2004.

Rebecca is Associate Producer on Transparent, the Musical Finale and served as Staff Writer on the finale as well. She is currently developing an episodic drama with Big Kid Pictures, called La Coyote, which has been selected to the WeForShe’s 2019 Writeher List.

She is an alumna of the Lincoln Center Director’s Lab as well as the AFI Directing Workshop for Women where she won the Jean Firstenburg Award for Best Short.

Her short films include, My First Time Driving (AFI Jean Firstenburg Award, Best Short at Lake Arrowhead Film Fest, Best of Shorts at Outfest), A/V Club (TV Pilot, NYTVF), Uber Alice (Woodstock Film Fest), Dead Cat (Producer, Tribeca Film Fest) and Irving(Official Selection Rhode Island Film Fest, Official Selection USA Film Fest, Ft. Lauderdale Film Fest, Atlanta Jewish Film Fest).

Cited source: Music Theatre International

Jay Reiss, Additional Materials

Photo of Jay ReissJay Reiss is a playwright. He is a Julliard graduate and provided additional material to the book for The 25th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee. Reiss appeared in the original workshops, Off-Broadway cast, and Broadway cast of the musical as Vice Principal Douglas Panch.

Cited source: Music Theatre International 

MTI International

Music Theatre International (MTI) is one of the world’s leading theatrical licensing agencies, granting theatres from around the world the rights to perform the greatest selection of musicals from Broadway and beyond. Founded in 1952 by composer Frank Loesser and orchestrator Don Walker, MTI is a driving force in advancing musical theatre as a vibrant and engaging art form.

MTI works directly with the composers, lyricists and book writers of these musicals to provide official scripts, musical materials and dynamic theatrical resources to over 100,000 professional, community and school theatres in the US and in over 150 countries worldwide.

MTI is particularly dedicated to educational theatre, and has created special collections to meet the needs of various types of performers and audiences. MTI’s Broadway Junior® shows are 30- and 60-minute musicals for performance by elementary and middle school-aged performers, while MTI’s School Editions are musicals annotated for performance by high school students.

MTI maintains its global headquarters in New York City with additional offices in London (MTI Europe) and Melbourne (MTI Australasia).

Cited source: Music Theatre International 

Presenting Sponsor:

iA Financial logo

Show Dates

Calendar of Performance dates for The 25th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee

Tuesday to Saturday evenings at 8 p.m.
Saturday matinees at 2 p.m


Subscription packages are available now.

Single Tickets for this show are available on October 28.

Charge by phone: 250-721-8000
or in person at the Phoenix Box Office
(online ticket purchases are not available)

Box Office Hours

  • Friday & Saturday Evenings:
    All Seats $34
  • Wednesday, Thursday Evenings & Saturday Matinees:
    All Seats $30
  • Cheap Tuesdays:
    All Seats $18
  • Student Rush Tickets:
    30 minutes before each show: $20
  • UVic Alumni:
    Saturday Matinees: $25 (with UVic Alumni ONECard)

Performed in the Roger Bishop Theatre

Cast & Creative

A full cast and creative team list will be posted in the fall.


Preshow Lecture: Friday, November 8 at 7 p.m.

Join us on the first Friday for a guest lecture about themes in the play.

Lectures are free and everyone is welcome, no matter which performance you have tickets for. The lectures are also recorded and audio files are posted here when available. 


Relevant advisories will be posted here. We sometimes receive advisories closer to the production dates. Please inquire at the box office if you have questions or concerns.