Tony Award-winner Kenny Howard directs hilarious musical at Garden Theatre


Photo by Patty Wolfe

The Garden Theatre (160 W Plant St.) is proud to present Beth Marshall Presents’ production of the riotous musical, The 25th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee, showing February 3rd through 26th, 2017. The 25th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee is sponsored by Outdoor Living Products and Toole’s Ace Hardware.

Winner of the Tony and the Drama Desk Awards for Best Book, The 25th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee has charmed audiences with its wit and humor.  In this riotous ride of a musical that includes audience participation, six young people in the throes of puberty candidly disclose hilarious and touching stories from their home life. Played by adults, the “tweens” spell their way through a series of challenging and off-the-wall words hoping to never hear the soul-crushing, pout-inducing, life un-affirming “ding” of the bell that signals a spelling mistake. At least the losers get a juice box.

Kenny Howard will direct this musical, Beth Marshall Presents (BMP) will produce, and the show will be under the musical direction of Julian Bond. In addition to his extensive and notable directorial work in the Orlando area, Kenny Howard is a Tony Award-winning Broadway producer for Gershwin’s Porgy & Bess and has produced seven other Broadway shows. Julian Bond is an award winning and internationally known composer, pianist, producer, recording artist and musical director. Bond was last seen and heard on the Garden Theatre stage as the pianist and musical director for BMP’s 33 Variations.

Beth Marshall Presents has brought thought-provoking and new, original works to the Garden Theatre stage in the past, including L’Ange Avec Les Fleurs (2008), Our Town (2009), Crimes of the Heart (2009), Driving Miss Daisy (2010), A Christmas Carol (2010), The Diviners (2011), Biloxi Blues (2013), Children of a Lesser God (2013), Alice Lost in Wonderland (now Shattered Alice, 2013), 33 Variations (2014), Doubt, A Parable (2015), The Whale (2016), and The Glass Menagerie earlier this season.

“BMP is thrilled to be producing our first published musical ever in the company's nine and a half year history as our 14th partnership show on the Garden Theatre stage,” said producer Beth Marshall. “Much of what drew BMP to this musical is the fit of a small town spelling bee in our lovely quaint town of Winter Garden, married with the focus on lively and fun children characters (played by adults).” 

“It's not a drama. It's not a play,” said Marshall. “It is branching out into new artistic territories this time to entertain our audience and make them laugh – a lot.”

The nine-person professional cast of The 25th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee includes Rebecca Fisher* as Rona, Jeff Lindberg as Vice Principal Panch, Anachebe Asomugha as Mitch, Kit Cleto as William (previous Garden Theatre roles: Jesus Pena in TheatreWorks Florida’s Hands on a Hardbody, Preacher in Garden Theatre’s Bonnie & Clyde), Kayla Alvarez as Olive, Ricky Cona as Chip, Savannah Simerly as Logainne, Eric Desnoyers as Leaf (previous Garden Theatre role: Jonas Fogg in TheatreWorks Florida’s Sweeney Todd) and Melina Kay as Marcy. *Member of Actors’ Equity Association, the Union of Professional Actors and Stage Managers, appearing under a special agreement with Actors’ Equity Association.

Tickets are $33 for adults and $29 for seniors and students, with special pricing of $29 for adults and $25 for seniors and students for opening night and Thursday performances. Show times are Thursdays through Saturdays at 8pm and Sundays at 2pm. There will be one Industry Night performance on Monday, February 13 at 8pm with $15 tickets. In addition, there will be two “Adults Only” performances, February 18 and 25 at 11pm (must be 18 or older to enter).

For tickets, visit or contact the Box Office at 407-877-GRDN (4736). Groups of 10 or more are eligible for discou

nts of up to 25% by contacting group sales manager Jana Goupil at 407-877-4736 x208.