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The Bee comes to the Beekay

Tehachapi Community Theatre Spotlight


July 21, 2018

Photo provided

Pictured kneeling from left to right: Liz Tiede, Lily Seymour and Jarrod Tiede. Standing from left to right: Duff Guarente, Jason Johnston, Audriana Lathrop, Jamie Uhtof and Doug Jockinsen.

For a moment, bring to mind your adolescent self. Your fifth/sixth grade self. Your 11/12-year-old self. Do you recall the confidence and self-assurance that you radiated to the world? Remember feeling so comfortable in your own skin? Recollect how socially adept and uber cool you were? Yeah, me neither.

For most of us, the adolescent years were a perfect storm of raging hormones, awkward bodies and emotional angst. For six of the actors in TCT's next musical production, "The 25th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee," that's precisely the target they're shooting for - the terrible tweens! Those six musical performers (adults playing kids) have the mission of re-inhabiting the gawky, geeky years as they battle in the ruthless world of competitive spelling.

Each child character in Putnam is a unique expression of the archetypes of puberty. And just like any good actor, the cast is calling upon memories of their own awkward years to help create the kids of the Bee.

Liz Tiede, who plays Olive Ostrovsky, recants a story of her own youth when she competed in the Geography Bee at her school. Her 12-year-old self was righteously indignant when she lost to a boy who cheated his way to the prize. "His bad behavior was rewarded," she cries. Now after all these years, she's ready to compete again.

Jamie Uhtof, who plays Schwartzy, finds common ground with her character's devotion to justice, fairness and rules. Jamie also notes her character's need to not disappoint feels very close to home. "I was that kid," she said.

Jarrod Tiede, who plays Chip Tolentino, describes his personal story of morphing from a shy, glasses-wearing bookish nerd who felt alienated in the world into a contact-wearing jock when he grew nearly half a foot in one summer. Jarrod notes that his personal experience of the struggle of a young nerd is something that his character Chip has never known. Yet.

Jason Johnston, who plays William Barfee, would simply like everyone to know that he was voted "Best Personality" in eighth grade. End of story.

Brought to you from the directors of last year's "The Drowsy Chaperone," don't miss this delightful musical as we answer the burning questions: Which of the misfit spellers will win the coveted trophy? Will Olive's dad show up? Will overachiever Marcy give Chip the time of day? Will Leaf's sparkly helmet protect her from her next topple?

The kids and adults of Putnam County welcome your attendance at the 25th Annual Spelling Bee opening July 27 and playing for three weekends at the beautiful BeeKay Theatre in historic downtown Tehachapi. Tickets available at Treasure Trove, Tehachapi Furniture or online at All tickets $18. PLEASE NOTE; This show is rated PG-13 for adult language and situations.


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