The 25th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee Hilarious, Beautiful Story

By: Brelby Theatre Company
25th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee at Brelby
25th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee at Brelby
GLENDALE, Ariz. - March 6, 2017 - PRLog -- Shelby Elise Maticic is the Artistic Director of the Brelby Theatre Company. She has been seen at Brelby in Peter and the Starcatcher as Molly, She Kills Monsters as Agnes, Twelfth Night as Viola, Nonfat Soy Peppermint Mocha Latte…with Sprinkles as Spirit, Playing Games as Mel, Happily Ever Once Upon as Goldilocks, Beyond Musketeers: Utopia Lost as Queen Anne, Fangirl  as Sophia, Windfall as Olivia, and The Oz Chronicles as Ozma. She has directed for Brelby The Age of Eibhleann, 12 Days of Christmas, Godspell, Through the Mist, Oh, the Humanity!, Picasso at the Lapin Agile, LUV, Playing Games, God's Favorite, Alice's Canvas, Little Women: the musical, Little Shop of Horrors, Ghost the Musical, and Quest for Claus: the Musical.  Shelby's playwriting credits include The Oz Chronicles, 12 Days of Christmas, Alice's Canvas: The Wonderland Exhibition, and After Hours at Rosie's Pub.

CJ O'Hara says he's "elated to be the musical director and piano/conductor for this production at Brelby." He hails from the east coast where he musically directed for 15 years, taught public and private school and owned his own lesson studio. He is proud to be an Arizona resident for the past 2 years and has enjoyed being a musical director and private instructor in the valley. He is also the composer of several musicals, one of which made it's NY debut. When he's not at the piano, trumpet or guitar, he's performing close-up magic or flying an airplane.

"My role as a musical director," he said, "begins by studying the show and the styles of composition. Each character has their own theme and way they sing their songs. It's imperative to make that clear to the audience and coach the actor through the process of learning their songs and styles. Also, getting them used to aural cues rather than watching a conductor has been a fun challenge. It's been a pleasure to dive into the score and learn the nuances that make this show great," he continued.

Maticic said, "It always begins with the script. As the director, it's my job to tell the story that the playwrights have crafted in the most honest and inventive way possible. One of my least favorite things to see is when a design or performance has been clearly lifted from the original broadway production of a show. I encouraged my designers and my actors to look at this show through fresh eyes, and find their own inspiration for bringing these characters and their stories to life."

"People will enjoy this show," said O'Hara, "because it's hilarious, creative, touching and tells a beautiful story about perseverance, friendship, tolerance and the wonder of wordplay. Who could ask for anything more?"

Maticic explained, "Helping adults to find childlike qualities can be a challenge, but one that has been a blast to tackle. It sounds silly, but getting the cast not to break character onstage has been a challenge. Not for lack of talent or professionalism, but because they're finding themselves swept up in one another's characters. It's charming."

O'Hara agreed there are exciting challenges, including "exploring the different vocal styles and nuances needed for the songs and character work. For instance, in the beginning of "My Friend the Dictionary", the character should introduce the concept of the song first with more of a speech-singing rather than beautiful sound. It was a joy working with Stephanie to accomplish this feat although we were both challenged by acquiring the right dynamic, style and tempo of the section. I think the audience will have a new appreciation for the character based on that work. Another fun challenge was making sure the beauty and fun of the score was brought out with the instrumentation I had. I have a great band joining me on-stage and it's been a fun challenge to try and bring out as much of the score as possible with the given instrumentation," he concluded.

"I knew that I wanted to spend a lot of time in play in the rehearsal room," Maticic said. "I encouraged my actors to show up as close to memorized as they possibly could for the first rehearsal, and they certainly took note. They were driven and motivated, and it allowed the production team to have plenty of time to get through the blocking process and then find special moments. We haven't felt rushed at all during this process, which is sometimes a luxury as a director. I believe in creating a rehearsal space where artists feel safe and supported. I find that they are willing to push harder and take bigger creative risks when they feel like someone has their back, and when they feel like it's okay to make choices that might ultimately get vetoed."

"This show is fun," Maticic remarked. "It's fast paced. It's hilarious. It's heartfelt. Most people will see at least a little bit of themselves in one of the spellers onstage. It'll take you back to what it was like to be that young, and fighting for something that seemed like the most important thing in the world. There are so many themes that we can connect to and be swept up in: coming of age stories, dealing with family pressures, discovering your inner strength, building new friendships, and what it means to selflessly support another."

The 25th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee plays March 10-11, 17-18, 24-25, 31, April 1 at 7:30PM and March 12, 19, 26 at 2PM. Tickets are available by visiting the official web site at General admission is $25 per performance. Admission to Blacklisters is included in the benefits of Brelby's ShowGO subscription: The Brelby Playhouse is located at 7154 N 58th Dr, Glendale, AZ 85301.

Cassandra Symonds
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Tags:25th Annual Putnam County, Spelling Bee, Brelby Theatre Company
Location:Glendale - Arizona - United States
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