HOUSTON — (Feb. 15, 2022) — Rice University Theatre will present musical comedy favorite “The 25th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee” across five performances Feb. 25-26 and March 3-5 at Hamman Hall. At each performance, four audience volunteers will be selected to participate in the bee, ensuring that no two performances are the same.
Written by Rachel Sheinkin with music and lyrics by William Finn, the musical follows the stories of six eclectic kids vying for first prize, bragging rights and, most importantly, a trip to the National Spelling Bee Competition, all while they learn that losing doesn’t necessarily make you a loser.
Nominated in 2005 for six Tony Awards including Best Musical, the play won for Best Book of a Musical and Best Featured Actor in a Musical.
The Rice Theatre production will be directed by Emily Wells, senior producing manager at Houston Grand Opera’s HGOco, where she has produced many new opera commissions including the web series “Star Cross’d.” She previously directed “On the Verge” for Rice University. Wells’ other credits include “The Who and the What” at Gulfshore Playhouse, “Buddy: The Buddy Holly Story” at Theatre on the Square and “Blood Brothers” at the University of Memphis.
Music direction will be provided by Rolethial McKelvey, musical director for Theatre Under the Stars, Humphreys School of Musical Theatre and the High School for Performing and Visual Arts, where she has worked on such shows as “Raisin” and “The Addams Family.” McKelvey is the co-director of piano studies at Meyerland Performing and Visual Arts Middle School.
Additional support for this production was underwritten by Elizabeth ’85 and John Rose, in honor of Sandy Havens.
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Located on a 300-acre forested campus in Houston, Rice University is consistently ranked among the nation’s top 20 universities by U.S. News & World Report. Rice has highly respected schools of Architecture, Business, Continuing Studies, Engineering, Humanities, Music, Natural Sciences and Social Sciences and is home to the Baker Institute for Public Policy. With 4,052 undergraduates and 3,484 graduate students, Rice’s undergraduate student-to-faculty ratio is just under 6-to-1. Its residential college system builds close-knit communities and lifelong friendships, just one reason why Rice is ranked No. 1 for lots of race/class interaction and No. 1 for quality of life by the Princeton Review. Rice is also rated as a best value among private universities by Kiplinger’s Personal Finance.