Calling all dictionary divas

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Calling all dictionary divas

AMHERST – Smaragdine. Chiaroscurist. Ursprache.

These words were all winners at the National Spelling Bee south of the border. Amherst will play host to its own spelling bee Nov. 3, 4 and 5 when Showcase Productions fall musical, The 25th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee, takes the stage at ARHS.

Spelling Bee won two Tony awards. Michele Hicks, directing the November show, saw the production in New York a number of years ago. She was impressed.

“[It was] very funny…[I] really loved it,” she said.

“I really appreciate creativity in writing,” she said. She “loves being told a story through music.”

The narrative of the musical includes six overachieving kids, a zany vice-principal, a former spelling bee champion and a counselor. Oh, and there are also audience members.

That’s right. While spectators are gathering before the show, Showcase staffers will interview people who express interest in being called up to the stage. (Hicks wants to reassure readers, though, that people will not be pulled up who have not already expressed a desire to be involved.)

Hicks is running auditions today and tomorrow. She says the ideal candidate for a role in the show would be “totally uninhibited.” A bit of a surprise: although the characters competing in the onstage spelling bee are 10-years old, the cast will likely be older. The 90-minute show has no intermission, there’s lots of dialogue, and some of the words may be too advanced for a child to master. Teens, even adults, may get the nod to revisit their childhoods.

For the record, according to, smaragdine means 1. of or pertaining to emeralds, or 2. emerald-green in colour.


Geographic location: New York

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