The 25th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee is a musical comedy with music by William Finn centering around a fictional spelling bee in a geographically ambiguous "Putnam County". It was workshopped and developed at the Barrington Stage Company in the Berkshires prior to its off-Broadway run at the Second Stage Theatre before transferring to Broadway's Circle in the Square Theatre. It was directed by James Lapine.
One unusual aspect of the show is that real audience members are invited to compete in the spelling bee alongside the performers. In each performance, four audience members compete against six actors. During the 2005 Tony Awards, former Presidential candidate Al Sharpton had a cameo as one of the competitors. Another unusual aspect of the show is its periodic "Parent-Teacher Conferences," also known as "adult night at the Bee," in which audience members must be over 17 to attend. These performances are peppered with sexual references and cursing, and grew from R-rated ad-libs made during rehearsals.
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