Coming into this show with no prior knowledge of the plot, characters, or music, I was expecting a comedy. In some ways, it is. The music and characters do have a certain ring of comedy to them, but this show is best described as an elementary/middle school coming of age story set at a spelling bee.
Each character has their own story with their own highs and lows and one shared setting. Some of the stories come quickly, with one of the judges telling hers during the very first scene of the show. Others’ stories are not fully explained until the end of the show. One thing is for sure though, each character’s story is pretty unique. This means that there’s a pretty high chance that you’ll identify with at least one part of the show.
Image via Musical Theater International
Also, despite the lighthearted feel of the show, there is plenty of sadness. Some of the backstories just have those little details that make them truly sad. And nothing is more heart wrenching than hearing someone you’re rooting for say, “It is?” when the word turns out to be spelled wrong. Not to mention the emphasis on the kids needing to win in order to keep or gain the love of their family.
But the audience participation, colorful set and costumes do help distract from this tragedy. The design is a nice mix of slightly cartoony/over the top while still being mostly rooted in reality. Meanwhile the audience participation just adds that little bit extra amount of engagement.
In addition, there is a nice mix in styles of the songs and all of them are sung by people with strong voices. It is almost guaranteed that at least one song will get stuck in your head.
Image via author
Honestly, there aren’t many drawbacks to this show. There are a few curse words, but that’s only a problem if you want to bring a child to the show. There’s also a friendship subplot that is given a few unnecessary romantic undertones. But, other than that, the only complaint would be that the story can be a bit simplistic at times.
But, as they say in the show, “Life has such possibility!” And there’s a discount with student ID, so you should definitely come out to see this show November 1st – 3rd at 7:30 pm or November 4th at 2:00 pm at the Majestic Theater! Tickets are $15, or $10 with student ID.