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ARTS NOTES

So, come on in and sit for a spell

July 18, 2004|Don Shirley

Did the hit documentary "Spellbound" make you want to get up on a stage and spell?

Well, theatergoers in western Massachusetts this summer have an opportunity to do that. "25th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee," a new musical that opened Thursday at the Barrington Stage Company, casts some audience members alongside six actors playing adolescent contestants in the titular event.

Composer William Finn ("Falsettos," "A New Brain") says four or five theatergoers at each performance are selected to spell from those in the will-call line at the theater, which seats 150. If more than enough people volunteer, the screener tries to pick those with "a certain level of fun," he says.

This "Bee" was conceived and co-directed by Rebecca Feldman, with a book by Rachel Sheinkin. A New York producer has invested money in it and intends to take it to Broadway next year, Finn says.

-- Don Shirley

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