Spelling Bee & Avenue Q

Monday, September 26, 2005

I finally saw the coveted new Broadway show, The 25th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee on Saturday evening with K. The musical comedy is about a group of grade school misfits who compete in the county spelling competition.

The theater is decorated with school banners and hand painted signs, just like a real educational institution would be. Even the stage and theater are made to look like a gymnasium with wooden floors, basketball hoops and a circular seating arena. It's really fun and creative, putting you in the scholastic mood right from the start. And the setting really made me eager for the live performance.

The show is partly interactive since they pick four audience members to come sit on the bleachers with the other contestants and even have them spell words with the actors. It's pretty funny. Even funnier are the sentences they give the children to describe the words that they are asked to spell.

The students, played by adults, range from a shy Asian girl yearning to rebel and not be so perfect, to a heavy boy who uses his foot to spell out the words he's given. Then there is a lonely girl in pig tails; a lesbian named Logann who is raised by two dads; an Asian boyscout who is more interested in the ladies at the bee; and a lispy red head boy who does not think he's smart. All of whom are under pressure to win in order to make their parents happy and eager to prove that they are the smartest.

Overall, it's a fun show, lots of laughter and enjoyment. The songs are cute but not memorable, since I can't recall any of them off the top of my head except the Unintended Erection one. However, the story line, humor and cast members make up for the lack of creative/catchy music.

Spelling Bee was nominated for six 2005 Tony Awards and won two, including Dan Fogler's performance as an overweight speller blessed with the magic foot.

Starting Oct. 2, they will be having 'Mature Audience Only' shows on certain set days, where there will be more naughtier words to spell.
After a theater going dry spell, it was a Broadway weekend for me, because the following day another friend and I took in the matinee showing of Avenue Q. This musical includes puppets, so yes another kids theme, yet again more for adults and their life lessons.

Avenue Q is the story of Princeton, a typical bright-eyed college grad who comes to NYC seeking a purpose but with a tiny bank account. He soon discovers that the only neighborhood in his price range is Avenue Q, which doesn't exist but makes fun of how far out it is, since the avenues in Manhattan only go up to D.

There he meets neighbors under similar circumstances, including a single girl who is a "monster" and his building's superintendent the former child star, Gary Coleman (played by a woman). Together, Princeton and his newfound friends struggle to find jobs, dates, and their ever-elusive "purpose" in life.
Despite winning the Tony for best Musical, I was hesitant to see this production. The whole human and puppets idea seemed freaky, but who knew puppet sex would be so funny, lol. And unlike Spelling Bee, the songs are catchy and more memorable. They include original titles like, "Sucks to Be Me," "It's OK if You're Gay," and "Everyone's a Little Racist."
The songs are sometimes interrupted by Sesame Street like cartoon lessons being shown on side TVs, but they aren't G rated e.g. a lesson about one night stands, haha.

Celeb Sightings: Saw David Hyde Peirce at the Broadway Flea Market & Auction, who by the way I've always had a crush on. I know, I know, shut up. He looked really good too. And the red head guy (Alan Tudyk) from A Knight's Tale walked by me on 45th Street on the way to the theater, but he looked upset and in a rush so I didn't say anything.

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