VISTA, CA – While Moonlight Youth Theatre’s (MYT) upcoming production of the musical comedy “The 25th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee” features young talent on stage, behind the scenes, students are also involved backstage in all facets of bringing the show to life. As part of MYT’s Theatre Internship program, the reigns of the creative direction of the show are being turned over to students in the program. The show’s director, choreographer, design and stage management teams, and all other staff positions are comprised of students. Audiences will get the chance to see the results of the students’ work when the show runs for one weekend only at Vista’s AVO Playhouse March 23 – 25.
Sponsored by the Vista Education Foundation, the MYT internship program is offered year-round allowing students to shadow theatre professionals who typically hold artistic and design leadership positions for its shows. With the exception of Musical Director Lyndon Pugeda, all backstage positions are held by young people in the program.
“The MYT intern program is one-of-a-kind as it allows students who are interested in the backstage process of creating a show the opportunity to observe, learn, and collaborate with theatre professionals,” said MYT’s Producer Mike Bradford. “Now that the student interns have had the opportunity to shadow professionals, they will put what they have learned to practical use in our production. It’s been a joy to have our interns and student cast come together to create a unique theatre experience.
“The 25th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee” is being directed by MYT alumni Jake Bradford, now a student at UCSD majoring in theatre. Rhiegan McCarthy (The Classical Academy) is choreographing, Soowan An (Rancho Buena Vista High School) is lighting designer, Violet Ceja (MiraCosta College) is sound designer, Caelan Robertson (Oceanside High School) is stage manager, and Naomi Schnorenberg (Oceanside High School) is assistant stage manager. A total of 17 students are in the program and are involved in working on the show and represent schools and colleges from throughout the region.
For the cast of the musical, Sean Barnett (Julian Charter School) is Leaf Coneybear; Josh Bradford (Vista High School) is Chip Tolentino; Audrey Deubig (Escondido High School) is Logainne Schwartandgrubenierre; Madeline Edwards (The Classical Academy) is Olive Ostrovsky; Aquila Ewald (Carlsbad High School) is Marcy Park; Grace Guy (Temecula Valley High School) is Mitchy Mahoney; Scotty Herrera (Temecula Valley High School) is William Barfee; Lydia Schmidt (Carlsbad High School) is Rona Lisa Peretti; and Amara Young (The Classical Academy) is Vice Principal Panch.
“The 25th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee” was originally conceived by Rebecca Feldman with additional material by Jay Reiss. Music and lyrics is by William Finn, and the book is by Rachel Sheinkin. Winner of the Tony Award and the Drama Desk Awards for Best Book, the musical centers around an eclectic group of six mid-pubescents vying for the spelling bee championship of a lifetime. While candidly disclosing hilarious and touching stories from their home lives, the characters spell their way through a series of words, hoping to never hear the soul-crushing, pout inducing, and life un-affirming “ding” of the bell that signals a spelling mistake. Six spellers enter, one speller triumphs! The show features catchy tunes and audience participation.
Tickets for the show are $15 and are on sale now through VisTix at (760) 724-2110 or online at vistixonline.com.
Moonlight Youth Theatre is a program of the Moonlight Cultural Foundation, the Vista-based non-profit dedicated to supporting the productions produced by the City of Vista’s Moonlight Stage Productions at the Moonlight Amphitheatre and MYT.