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The Virginia Senate declined Friday to hold a floor vote on legislation by Del. James Edmunds that would authorize Halifax County to hold a referendum on a local sales tax…


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25th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee takes the stage / March 19, 2015

“Welcome, everyone, to the 25th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee. This year’s contest is sure to be a nail biter, as the competition is stiff. Who will walk away with the championship trophy? Only time will tell! Now, sit back, relax, and enjoy the thrill of this year’s spelling bee competition. May the best speller win!”

Opening on Friday, April 10, Halifax County Little Theatre’s production of the 25th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee, will allow you to regale your glory days in the awkward and ever changing time that was called “middle school”. HCLT will be turning the Prizery stage into a middle school café-gymna-torium (cafeteria, gymnasium, and auditorium all rolled into one) for this Tony Award winning musical. Audiences will not only witness this hilarious, edge of your seat spelling competition, but several lucky audience members will actually join the competition on stage each night!

Halifax County Little Theatre board member Andy Rice is excited to be directing this production. Returning to the HCLT team as musical director is the talented Cheri Blackwell, who also worked in this same capacity in The Man Who Saved Christmas and Jungle Book. Cheri is really dedicated to HCLT; she commutes from Raleigh to work on productions.

Spelling Bee’s colorful cast is comprised of veteran actors and actresses who really know how to take charge of the stage. The hostess of the Spelling Bee is a local favorite on stage, Alison Streeter, who plays Rona Lisa Peretti, the premier realtor in Putnam County and also the spelling bee moderator. Alison will bring her vocal talents as well as her comedic acting to play this former Spelling Bee Queen whose life never quite measured up to the glory of winning THE BEE 20 years earlier.

Devin Hall, whom audiences will remember as Mr. Zimmerman in Charlotte’s Web, takes the role of vice principal, Douglas Panch, who is reluctantly reviving his career in the spelling bee circuit, after an extended hiatus. He’d love to reignite an old flame with Miss Rona Lisa Peretti, so he agreed to help her out at the last minute.

Portraying the quite intimidating comfort coach, Mitch Mahoney, is Austin Bowen, a student at Averett University who has quite a bit of stage experience. In this role, he’s only at the Bee to fulfill his required community service by handing out juice boxes and a word of comfort as spellers are eliminated.

Of course, this Spelling Bee would not be complete without a group of over- zealous, middle school contestants. Lauren Cole, a fresh face to Halifax County Little Theatre, will be playing the heart-warming role of Olive Ostrovsky, whose parents are too busy to notice that her best friend is the dictionary. Throughout the show, Olive is anticipating her father’s arrival to see her shining moments on the Bee stage.

Joining Cole is Jeremy Duffer, in the quirky role of William Morris Barfee. Duffer is a veteran with HCLT, as he has been in shows such as Charlotte’s Web, The Man Who Saved Christmas, and The Wide World of Sports. Wait until you see his trick for remembering how to spell those treacherous words!

Other members of the Spelling Bee competition are Sharron Garrett, who wowed audiences in Smokey Joe’s Tavern, Behind the Make up, and most recently Beehive, The 60’s Rock Musical, as over-achiever Marcy Park. Marcy speaks six languages and is driven to succeed at EVERYTHING. Marcy is sure to be a stiff competitor throughout this competition.

Shane Brogden, who has a great deal of experience on stage both locally and at Averett University, plays the under-appreciated Leaf Coneybear, a last minute addition to the contest due to the preoccupation of his district’s winners. Leaf is home schooled and ridiculed by his parents and siblings because he isn’t as smart as they are. He has ADD (Attention Deficit Disorder) and is often in his own world.

Kara Stone, portrays the politically minded Logainne SchwartzandGrubenniere. Affectionately known as “Schwarzy”, Logainne comes from a family of two fathers who tend to be quite overbearing and obsessed with her success. She wants to please them more than anything in the world. Stone, originally from California now resides in Halifax County and has studied at Danville Community College. Director Andy Rice made this statement about Kara’s involvement with the show, “Kara is wonderful! She always gives 100% and is a great asset to the cast. She has been a catalyst for their bonding”.

Be on the look out because reigning Putnam County Spelling Bee champion, Chip Tolentino, played by Christian Roach, will be stepping up to defend his prestigious title. Roach is another veteran actor, whose credits include Swill, The Cook , in HCLT’s How I Became a Pirate, and Aladdin in The North Theatre’s production of Aladdin Jr.

Tickets are available at,, and at the Prizery box office by calling 572-8339 or through HCLT at 579-5041. Performance dates are April 10, 11, 14, 17, and 18 at 7:30 p.m. and April 12 and 19 at 3 p.m. HCLT strongly advises that parents may consider this material not suitable for young children, and recommends it for older teens and adults.

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