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The 25th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee

Jun 12, 2024
Jun 23, 2024
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Winning (and losing) isn’t everything.

An eclectic group of six mid-pubescents vie for the spelling championship of a lifetime while candidly disclosing hilarious and touching stories from their home lives. The tweens spell their way through a series of (potentially made-up) words, hoping never to hear the soul-crushing, pout-inducing, life un-affirming "ding" of the bell that signals a spelling mistake. In this beloved musical, six spellers enter; one speller leaves a champion! (At least the losers get a goodbye song and a juice box.) Directed by Farmers Alley Theatre founder and Executive Director Rob Weiner, it’s a joyful night of comedy and quirk that celebrates the pursuit of victory and the gift of being true to oneself.

Winner of the Tony and the Drama Desk Awards for Best Book, The 25th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee shines with effortless wit and humor and features a cast full of Farmers Alley favorites including founder Denene Mulay Koch as moderator (and former spelling champion) Rona Lisa Peretti. A fast-paced, wildly funny and touching musical with a truly fresh and vibrant score, this is one bee you won’t forget!

Presented at Festival Playhouse on the campus of Kalamazoo College

THE 25TH ANNUAL PUTNAM COUNTY SPELLING BEE is presented through special arrangement with Music Theatre International (MTI). All authorized performance materials are also supplied by MTI.


Music & Lyrics by William Finn

Book by Rachel Sheinkin

Conceived by Rebecca Feldman



Alexis Aponte
Marcy Park

Alexis just recently graduated with a BFA in Musical Theater Performance from WMU, and is thrilled to begin the next phase in her career as a young professional here at the Bee. Notable roles include: Mopsa in Head Over Heels, Helene in Natasha, Pierre, … 1812 (WMU), and Connie Wong in A Chorus Line. Having previously appeared at Farmers Alley in RENT and She Persisted, Alexis now prepares to move to New York City equipped with new representation, tons of familial support, and lots of ambition.

Angela Calleja
Logainne Schwartzandgrubenierre

Angela is thrilled to be making her Farmers Alley debut! She is currently a rising sophomore at WMU studying Musical Theatre Performance. Her most recent credits include Spongebob Standby in Spongebob the Musical, J.Finch/Bippy in Puffs, and Elle Woods in Legally Blonde! She would like to thank her family and friends for their ongoing support, and everyone who came out to see Spelling Bee!

Mariangeli Collado
Olive Ostrovsky

Mariangeli is from Pembroke Pines, Florida and will be a Senior Musical Theatre major at the U of M this coming fall. Growing up she had the pleasure of participating in local theatre, competitive dance, and numerous projects within the pop music industry. Notable credits include: RENT (Mimi Marquez, Farmers Alley Theatre), A Chorus Line (Diana Morales, U of M MUSKET), and A Little Night Music (Frederika Armfeldt, University of Michigan). She is immensely honored, grateful, and ecstatic to be back in Kalamazoo working on such a joyful piece of theatre!

Teddy Huff
Chip Tolentino

Teddy is thrilled to be back at Farmers Alley Theatre. He was previously seen in RENT and A Swinging Christmas: The Holiday Music of Tony Bennett. His WMU credits include Jack in Into the Woods, Luke in The Lightning Thief, Chip in On the Town, and Pollux in Argonautika.

Denene Mulay Koch
Rona Lisa Peretti

Denene is thrilled to be playing the role of Rona Lisa Peretti in Spelling Bee! A founder of Farmers Alley, Denene is a Cincinnati Conservatory of Music (CCM) graduate who lived and worked in NYC for 11 years before moving back to Michigan in 2004. You may have seen her in Farmers Alley’s most recent production of Sondheim on Sondheim as well as in other Farmers Alley shows including She Loves Me (Amalia), Parade (Lucille), 1776 (Abigail Adams), The Bridges of Madison County (Francesca) and Fun Home (Helen). Denene teaches Musical Theatre through Education for the Arts and also teaches private vocal and acting lessons.

Denene dedicates this performance to her father, John Mulay - a truly great speller! I M I S S Y O U

Michael P. Martin
Vice Principal Douglas Panch

Michael is a 2002 graduate of WMU with a BA in Theatre Performance. Since moving to Kalamazoo in 1997, Michael has performed in over 75 local theatre productions (including Spamalot and Peter and the Starcatchers here at Farmers Alley Theatre), independent films, area television commercials, and the Silverleaf Renaissance Faire. He has directed at area theaters including The New Vic and the Kalamazoo Civic. He serves on the board of the Kalamazoo Civic Theatre and as the Director of Experience Fulfillment at the Air Zoo, a world-class aviation and aerospace experience.

Jeff Meyer
Leaf Coneybear

Jeff is a Chicago-based actor and graphic designer from LA, making his Farmers Alley debut! Some of his other favorite roles: the Dentist in Little Shop of Horrors and Emmett in Legally Blonde (Saugatuck Center for the Arts), Freddy in My Fair Lady, and Mercutio in Romeo and Juliet (Montana Shakespeare in the Parks), and Cinderella’s Prince and the Wolf in Into the Woods (The Hypocrites / Mercury Theater Chicago). You can see more of his work at Jeff’s performance is dedicated to his sister Sam, a kindergarten teacher and the definition of indefatigable.

Aaron Pottenger
Mitch Mahoney

Aaron is excited to return to the Farmers Alley Theatre for a second consecutive production, and to play in …Spelling Bee yet again! Regional credits include: Guys & Dolls, The Little Mermaid, Man of La Mancha, Ragtime, Sound of Music, The Fantasticks, Sherlock Holmes, Beauty & the Beast, and many more. He’s also starred in various live concert productions across the country. None of this would be possible without the faithfulness of God and Aaron’s family and close friends. Special thanks to Jeremy, Rob and the entire team at Farmers Alley for another awesome opportunity. “The top of one mountain is the bottom of another, so keep climbing” - Andre De Shields. IG: @Imaaronpottenger

Charlie Turner
William Barfée

Charlie is beyond excited to be making his Farmers Alley Theatre debut in …Spelling Bee! Charlie is based out of NYC with a degree in musical theatre from Oklahoma City University. Off-Broadway: Singfeld: An Unauthorized Musical Parody About Nothing (Male Swing). Regional: The Play That Goes Wrong (Max/Cecil Haversham/Arthur), R+H’s Cinderella (Jean Michel). OKCU: Spamalot (Prince Herbert/Not Dead Fred), Pippin (Pippin) and Closer Than Ever (Man 1). Charlie thanks the whole Farmers Alley team, Firestarter Entertainment, his family (Mom, Dad, Sarah, Jack), Annie, and lastly his D&D group for keeping him active as a performer.

Creative Team

Creative Team

Robert Weiner
Chris Gray
Music Director

Eclecticism has been the hallmark of music director and pianist Chris Gray’s career. He started in the arts as a young actor in community/local theater and musical theater productions before pursuing the music aspect full time, music directing his first show (ANNIE) at the age of 17. In addition to his theater appearances, Chris is active as a music coach and pianist at WMU, and maintains a local piano studio. Chris is thrilled to be back at Farmers Alley for another Kathy Mulay show, he was last seen as the music director for WORKING, A MUSICAL; A GENTLEMAN’S GUIDE TO LOVE AND MURDER; and our fabulous 15th anniversary fundraiser BRIGHT STARS: A BENEFIT CONCERT EVENT.

Roger W. Burleigh
Stage Manager

Roger is excited to be in his 11th season as Farmers Alley Theatre's Equity Stage Manager. Roger started his theatre journey in second grade and has been traveling that road ever since. As an actor and technician Roger has graced many stages and has been at Farmers Alley since season two. Some of his favorites in recent years are NEXT TO NORMAL, THE PRODUCERS, PETER AND THE STARCATCHER, THE PHANTOM OF THE OPERA, MURDER FOR TWO, and THE CURIOUS INCIDENT…. Roger would like to thank his family and educators who got him hooked on live theatre. There is nothing quite like experiencing a live production with a live audience. Proud member of Actors Equity Association.

Sam Snow
Scenic Designer
Melissa Sparks
Grace Santamaria
Costume Designer
Savannah Draper
Prop Designer & Scenic Artist

A Kalamazoo native, Savannah has spent the bulk of her career working as a freelance designer, stage manager and technician throughout Michigan, Pennsylvania and North Carolina. Prior to freelancing, she was the Stage Management Associate for the Kalamazoo Civic Theatre and Props Designer/SM for Millbrook Playhouse. With a multitude of shows under her belt she prides herself in her fake food, antiquing skills and her ability to paint wood to look like different wood.

Les Batts
Sound Designer
Lanford J. Potts
Lighting Designer

Lanny is thrilled to be working with the incredibly talented team of SONDHEIM ON SONDHEIM! Lanny’s work includes 5 Michigan Wilde Awards (“best of” in lighting design) for Farmers Alley productions of GYPSY, THE LIGHT IN THE PIAZZA, BRIDGES OF MADISON COUNTY, CAMELOT, and BRIGHT STAR; a national lighting award for FUN HOME from the John F. Kennedy Center, multiple regional design awards (Atlanta, Detroit, Lansing), and two Governor’s Commendations (Georgia and Michigan). He is a member of the Farmers Alley Theatre Board and provides event production design work internationally. Lanny would like to thank his family for allowing him to pursue his passions.

Mike Borzkowski
Technical Director

Mike is returning as Farmers Alley Theatre’s full time Technical Director. Mike has previously served as the audio engineer at Chenery Auditorium, a stagehand at Miller Auditorium, and the TD for the Battle Creek Symphony Orchestra. Specializing in taking things apart – but not necessarily putting them back together again – Mike is ready to keep taking on the unique challenges and opportunities at Farmers Alley Theatre.


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Content Advisory

Farmers Alley does not offer advisories about subject matter, as sensitivities vary from person to person. If you have any questions about content, age-appropriateness or stage effects (such as strobe lights or theatrical fog) that might have a bearing on patron comfort, please contact the box office at 269.343.2727

Contains mild adult language and innuendos. Recommended for audiences 13 and up. Farmers Alley Theatre does not offer further advisories about subject matter, as sensitivities vary from person to person. If you have any additional questions about content, age-appropriateness or stage effects (such as strobe lights or theatrical fog) that might have a bearing on patron comfort, please contact the box office at 269.343.2727

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