AUDITIONS FOR "SPELLING BEE"

DO NOT come to your audition without watching the musical at least once! Familiarize yourself with the musical and its characters. Pay attention to their distinct personalities and character traits! There are many versions you can watch on Youtube... the soundtrack is there too.  Here is the version we recommend:
Your audition appointment will last approximately 15 minutes and appointments are booked closely together, so please make every effort to arrive on time (or early!)
Here is what you should prepare for your audition:
SINGING PORTION
ACTING PORTION

Once you're familiar with the show, choose 1-2 different characters that you feel you are right for.  Prepare the song they sing in the show.  Pick 16 bars of the most difficult part of the song.  You will be singing this acapella (no accompaniment).  

You are permitted to bring a copy of your music in the room but we would really like you to be memorized.  

 

It's very, very important that you make bold, exciting choices and give the character a strong personality - that is much more important to us than having you sing pretty!  We can always change the key of the song for the right actor.  We want to see you act!

All of this music can be found online.  If you are having difficulty, send us an email. 

SUGGESTED VOCAL AUDITION PORTIONS

William Barfee - "Magic Foot"
Beginning – Measure 33 (“It’s an alpha-better way to spell”)

Olive Ostrovsky - "The I Love You Song"
Measure 108 (“When are you returning”) through Measure 138 (“Wish you were home”)

Leaf Coneybear - "I’m Not That Smart"
Measure 50 (“I might be smart”) through the end

 

Marcy Park - "I Speak Six Languages"
Measure 18 (“To excel in athletics”) through Measure 52 (“Though I play Mozart more”)

 

Logaine Schwartzandgrubenierre - "Woe is Me"
Measure 18 (“I hope you can love, America”) through Measure 63 (“why I gotta win this spelling bee”)

Chip Tolentino - "Chip’s Lament"

Measure 45 (“My unfortunate protuberance”) through Measure 84 (“Is ruining my life”)

Mitch Mahoney - "Prayer of the Comfort Counselor"
Beginning through Measure 27 (“Spell with patience and care”)

Vice Principal Douglas Patch:
While this is a non-singing role, we want to hear what capabilities each actor has. Please sing any of the suggested portions for Barfee, Leaf, Mitch, or Chip

 

Rona Lisa Peretti - "The I Love You Song"
Measure 42 (“We always knew, we always knew”) through Measure 74 (“I Love You”) 

 

Prepare sides/monologues for 2 or 3 characters, so we can see some of your range.  

You are permitted to bring a printed copy in the room, but we would really like you to be memorized!

Please make interesting acting choices with your character!!!

CHIP TOLENTINO 

The reigning spelling champion of Putnam County, relatively athletic and social, he expects things to come easily to him. Lately though, he's been going through some weird changes, and things are slipping out of his control.

Tittup. T... I...

    (reluctantly, but he knows it)

T... U – Oh wait. Two t’s. You heard both, right? Backing up, T-I-T-T-U-P. Tittup

    (Ding)

No! But, I wasn’t sure if you heard both t’s. I obviously know how to spell it... That’s not fair. I got it right. I can’t get out on a word I spelled right.

Miss Peretti, can I have one more chance? Please?

 

LEAF CONEYBEAR

A second alternate, he never expected to compete here today. Home-schooled with his many siblings, everything about this public bee is an adventure for him, from meeting the other kids to showing off his homemade clothing, to each moment of unexpected attention. He may have severe Attention Deficit Disorder but delights in his own wandering focus. Leaf doesn't expect to win –or even to spell one word correctly–but he finds absolutely everything incredibly amusing. His mother has made him wear his protective helmet to the bee.

    (Phone rings. A flashback to the moment when he found out he’s in.)

Thanks! I got it!

Hello, Leaf speaking. Uh, huh. Uh, huh. Uh, huh.

You’re kidding? I’m gonna represent the Basin in the bee? Wow, I can’t believe it.

Mom, Dad, Marigold, Brook, Pinecone, Raisin, Landscape, Paul - you’re not going to believe this! I made the county finals in the spelling bee!

    (LEAF’S FAMILY laughs.)

I know! but they just called and said the person who came in first has to go to their bat mitzvah, and the person who came in second... has to attend the bat mitzvah, so they want me to do it!

 

RONA LISA PERRETTI 

Putnam's long-time spelling bee hostess, a local realtor, and 3rd annual Putnam County spelling champion. This is the Rona's day to be queen. From her perspective she keeps the bee running smoothly, upholds protocol, and conveys crucial information to the audience. Her interest in the competition is unflagging and drives it forward. She thinks of this as a complex cerebral sporting event, and she wants the audience to understand every twist and turn. If anything, in her life in general, she has to minimize the importance of this event to her, embarrassed that her own championship moment remains such a highlight. A little concerned when the substitute word pronouncer arrives, she knows she has to step up her game to make the day a success.

Ladies and Gentlemen, all the children you see on stage are here because of their extraordinary ability and love of language—but only one of them can go on to compete in the National Spelling Bee!

Hello, I’m Rona Lisa Peretti, and I’m pleased to be back for my 9th consecutive year as your host. Unfortunately, our usual word pronouncer, Superintendent Spriggs has [fallen ill]*, so please join me in welcoming Vice Principal Douglas Panch from Lake Hemingway-Dos Passos Junior High. Vice Principal Panch is returning to us after a five-year – so thank you Douglas for stepping in on such short notice.*

*you may substitute a short Ad-lib, topical or otherwise, for “fallen ill”.

 

WILLIAM BARFEE

Has a host of health problems and a lot to prove. Loud and combative as a defensive posture, he is the fat kid who becomes a bully to avoid being picked on (though he often gets picked on anyway so gets into a lot of fights). His parents are divorced, his father remarried to a much younger woman; and William does not expect kindness from anyone but his mother. So friendship takes him by surprise. Still, he's noticed on the spelling circuit for his remarkable technique -spelling words out on the floor with his foot. Taken out of competition last year because of an ill-timed allergic reaction, he's here for vindication. The journey he doesn't expect is one of coming to care about someone else –when he sees outside his own needs for perhaps the first time, it shakes him fundamentally.

    (CHIP throws a package of peanut M&Ms at Barfee.)

What are you -- nuts?!

    (sees what it is)

Nuts! You threw the yellow ones!

Will someone pick up the p – p - p ? I can’t be near the peanuts!

    (OLIVE comes and picks up the package. Gives it back to Chip)

You could be disqualified for that – if you hadn’t already been eliminated!

    [CHIP: You know something, Barf: I may have lost, but you are the biggest loser here.]

Oh yeah? Well, that is a common misperception.

BARFEE shouts ad-libs at Chip as he exits [eg: “This is a bully-free zone” etc]

 

MARCY PARK

The ultimate over-achiever, Marcy has never been given another option. She comes from a family where excellence is expected and so simply produced. A parochial school student, she assumes God, too, expects perfection. She sees herself as a mass of problems but she keeps them to herself. Having moved often because of her parents' work, she knows she can beat the local competition. Her many talents include piano, dance, martial arts, baton twirling, and/or whatever special gifts you have.

 

Dear Jesus, can’t you come up with a harder word than that?

    (responding to JESUS’s voice, which she hears clearly in her head) 

Jesus? Hi! How are you?  Jesus... I was wondering what would happen if I didn’t win today. What I mean is, would you be disappointed with me if I lost?

You’re saying it’s up to me then?   

(she returns to spelling)  Camouflage. C-A-M...O-U

  (still deciding)  F - L. ..A... J    

(and as soon as she dares miss the first letter, she takes more and more joy in getting it wrong)...  Z!!...H!!!

Camaflajzh!

RONA: Miss Park speaks 5 languages. 

MARCY: No I don't.

RONA:  Don't you? Oh, ok...well, it says you won your school's gifted writing contest.

MARCY:  Does it also say I only sleep 3 hours a night and I hide in the bathroom cabinet and I'm not allowed to cry?

RONA: Uh...no it does not say that.

MARCY:  Well, it should. By the way...I speak 6 languages! 

 

OLIVE OSTROVSKY

A word lover, Olive has a fairly quiet life. An only child with often-absent parents, Olive spends a lot of her time alone. She fills some of that time reading the dictionary-the words bring her comfort, as does the idea of the vastness of the world the book contains. During the first half of the bee, she often peers into the audience to see if her father, who is delayed at work, has made it yet. She starts enormously shy, and shyly blossoms.

    (seeing someone taking chair she saved)

Oh, excuse me – ma’am/sir could you not sit in that seat –

I saved a chair for my dad in the eighth row; and it may take him a while but when he get’s here, that’s his chair.

    (getting caught up in her own memories)

‘Cause my mother’s in an ashram in India. I saved a chair for her too but it’s merely symbolic, as daily she cleanses herself in the Ganges. And I live in a house where there’s an oversized dictionary, that I read as a girl on the toilet.

    (called back to spelling reality)

Boanthopy. Is that from the Latin root "bo "meaning ox, and the Greek root "anthro" meaning man?

 

VICE PRINCIPAL DOUGLAS PANCH 

VP Panch of Lake Hemingway Dos Passos Junior High is frustrated with his life. He fell into education, less out of love than a general ability uncoupled to a particular passion. The drive of the young spellers is alien to him. He never found anything that important. Stuck in his current job, endlessly awaiting a promotion that isn't coming, he was not happy to get the call this morning that he was needed to substitute; but he starts the bee eager to do well, to redeem himself for past mistakes, and to impress the local hostess, Rona Lisa, who impressed him long ago.

Thank you Rona, and I would like to say as to the incident 5 years ago, I’m in a much better place now. [It’s amazing what a change of diet can do for a man. Thank you.*]

*[Ad lib note: Here, the actor reading for Panch has the option to ad lib some reference to “the incident” at his digression. As originally written, the line reads: “It’s amazing what a change of diet can do for a man. Thank you.” The original line would be a fine choice, but you have the option to change it]

And may I add... (complementing Rona) Ms. Peretti here is not only one of Putnam County’s top realtors, she’s also a former spelling champion herself. Beautiful.

And now for the Pledge of Allegiance led by our comfort counselor,

    (Checks the writing on the palm of his hand)

Mr. Mitchell M. Mahoney.

NOTE: Those auditioning for Panch should also prepare the following example of an interaction with a speller.

PANCH: Your word is “phylactery.”

SPELLER: May I have the definition, please?

PANCH: Either of two small square leather boxes containing religious texts traditionally worn on the left arm and head by Jewish men during morning weekday prayers.

SPELLER: May I have a sentence, please?
PANCH: Billy, put down that phylactery – we’re Episcopalian.

 

MITCH (OR MEG) MAHONEY

With a bouncer's physique and demeanor, Mitch appears an odd choice to be the bee's "comfort counselor,” but it's part of his/her community service assignment. The outsider, who in a way gets to inhabit the audience perspective, he/she wonders about the wisdom of putting the kids through this at all. He/she has no idea how to offer comfort, but does wish he/she could find a way to make the kids feel better about losing, and perhaps place misspelling into a wider perspective.

You can’t comfort these darn kids. They don’t yet know that the good don’t always win, so there’s nothing you can say to cheer them up when they lose. I want to tell them disappointment doesn’t last—but from what I’ve seen disappointment lasts. I want to tell them words don’t matter; but from what I’ve seen words can get you killed. I just want to beat them up a little, so they understand that pain has degrees, and this is nothing—this is nothing, you little freaks. But that would violate my parole. So I do what I can. I give them a hug and a juice box. I’m here to give comfort.

 

LOGAINNE SCHWARTZANDGRUBENNIERE

Younger than most bee participants, she is driven by internal and external pressure–but above all by a desire to win to make her two fathers (from whom she takes her combined last name) proud. She lisps, is a little uncomfortable in her body, has some tics, but still manages to strike a strong presence with her political awareness and keen sense of justice. Having drilled words for hours a day, she is aware of everything that passes in the room.

*Please either write and prepare your own short, topical speech for the audition, or choose from one below.

1) Doesn’t anybody else here care about the rules?

(and seeing an opportunity she goes to the microphone and makes a political speech. )

This bee is about as shocking as Lance Bass coming out of the closet! Former N'Sync member Lance Bass literally rocked the nation earlier this week when he proudly came out of the closet. Though, as my dads pointed out, the highlighted hair tips have always been a little bit of a dead giveaway. Anyway, I applaud Lance for taking a stand and essentially bein' the anti-Bush poster boy. He's openly gay, he's dating someone with a very foreign name and he wrote the song that I want to sing to President Bush when he finally leaves office (with boy band choreography singing) - I wanna see you out that door - baby, bye bye bye!!!

2) Doesn’t anybody else here care about the rules?

(and seeing an opportunity she goes to the microphone and makes a political speech. )

 

This bee is as confusing for me as Father's Day! As the daughter of 2 gay dads, I'd like to know who scheduled Father's Day and Gay Pride weekend within 7 days of each other?! Well anyway, to celebrate Gay Father's Pride week, which is what we call it in my family, we went to go see "Cinderella Man" - but it wasn't exactly what we were expecting.

 

3)  Doesn’t anybody else here care about the rules?

(and seeing an opportunity she goes to the microphone and makes a political speech. )

 

This bee is about as misguided as the current administration! With the Patriot Act about to expire, President Trump was quoted in this week’s NY Times as saying "in times of terrorism, some civil liberties must be sacrificed. But I will do my best to protect them." As a progressive, half-Jewish, mixed race child of 2 gay fathers, I really don't think he's got my civil liberties in mind.

PLEASE NOTE:

  • We may ask you to dance or move, so dress comfortably.

  • Auditions are competitive and roles are limited.  Knowledge of the music and the show is required. Show us what role you deserve.

  • We are looking to see you act a character through song and dance, as well as your musical proficiency and competency.

  • Be familiar with the style of the show and make clear choices.

  • Please do not merely imitate other actor's performances.

  • The key to comedy is timing, being in the moment and making fresh choices!

  •  Break a leg!  We are rooting for you.