The 25th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee a Winner for TI Playhouse

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photos by Mark Bergin
written by Lorraine Payette on August 6, 2013

“Mr. Kilmer, the word is ‘catterjunes’”

“What is the definition, please?”

“That definition is unknown.”

“Could you use it in a sentence, please?”

“It exists in the oral tradition, seems to be an old Nantucket whaling term…

“The neap tide is upon us. The Leviathan nears. Catterjunes.”

And young Mr. Kilmer spelled the word correctly…

– from “The 25th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee”, August 3

(GANANOQUE, ONTARIO) Ashlie Corcoran must be drunk on joy by now – she has rolled out another mammoth hit with the Thousand Islands Playhouse production of The 25th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee. It seems that Corcoran has got the Midas touch and is striking gold once again, and the audience couldn’t praise it highly enough.

“I really enjoyed it, it is very funny,” said Betty Hayes.

“The performance of the various actors was absolutely tremendous,” said John Hayes, Betty’s husband. “They’ve really got the heart and soul in it, and they’re doing an excellent job.”

“It’s quite good,” said Noah Barry, age 13, from Trenton. “I’ve never done a spelling bee, and I don’t think I’d like having to get up in front of people and spell all those words.”

“It’s very well done,” said Pattie Barry, Noah’s mother. “My daughter wanted to see it, so we came along and we’re really impressed. I like small theatre. This is our second time coming to a show here, and I would definitely recommend it to friends.”

photos by Lorraine Payette

“I’ve been here before and seen a number of productions,” said Karen From, who came in from Kingston. “I saw that this was on and was a musical comedy, something we have enjoyed before, so I decided to come down and invite my family along. The show is great and we’re going to recommend it to everyone we know.”

“I’m really enjoying tonight’s show,” said Carol Green. “It’s a lot of fun to have audience participation, and the kids are great. Bringing up that little boy from the audience was wonderful – he was just fantastic. I would definitely recommend this to anyone looking for a good time.”

“The entire show is wonderful,” said Anna Belfie of Ottawa. “I was so sorry they took the last fellow from the audience off – he was adorable. I went to a rural school, so we didn’t do any of this, but there’s a lot of good energy in the crowd tonight and it feels like a real family experience.”

“The show is really funny and I’m really enjoying it,” said Lauren Lazowski from Toronto, granddaughter to Anna. “I like the involvement with the audience, bringing a few people in. It’s like improv. It was good, and they handled it really well. I would definitely recommend this to friends. We come every year as a family to see shows here and this is one of my favourites in recent memory. We really love it here, and will keep on coming to see the shows.”

“I’ve been laughing a lot,” said Debbie Belfie, Anna’s daughter, also from Ottawa. “I think everyone’s really enthusiastic and I’m really glad the new artistic director is doing such a good job. My mum used to teach here, over at Linklater.

“We come all the time to these great productions. We’ve been bringing friends and family for thirty years now, and plan to keep right on doing so.”

“The play is wonderful,” said 88-year-old Lois Creed of Dexter, New York. “I remember as a child having to get up in front of the class to spell words or recite things we’d memorized. It certainly brings back a lot of memories.”

The show is alive with humour, the tension of competition, and personal insights into the lives of the different participants. One of the most poignant moments of the production is the “I Love You Song”, performed by characters Olive (Piper Goodeve) and her parents (Michael-Lamont Lytle and Kristin Galer). Her mother is away in India at an ashram on a retreat, her father hasn’t made it over from work, and due to their absentee-parenting style, poor Olive has spent much of her young life finding solace in reading the dictionary, sensing the power and glory of the words and trying to draw her strength from them. Sensitively staged and performed, it adds a wonderful layer of depth to the overall show.

But for all our love and care and concern for the characters, there can only be one winner of the 25th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee.

And that winner is…


“The 25th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee” runs at the Springer Theatre in Gananoque from August 2 – August 31. Show times are Tuesday through Saturday 8:00 pm, with matinees Wednesday, Saturday and Sunday at 2:30 pm (starting the Wednesday after opening night). Tickets are $32 for adults, $30 for seniors age 65+, $16 for students, with a half price preview on August 2 (HST will be added to all prices). Group tickets are available at $26 – $28 each including GST.

For more information or to buy tickets, please go to or contact the box office at 613-382-7020.


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