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What's Up Magazine

Behind the Curtain at Church Hill Theatre

Sep 29, 2011 06:41PM ● By Anonymous

Age seems to define the Church Hill Theatre built on traditions and history dating back to the 1920’s however, what goes on inside of it is purely young and innovative. The theatre’s three goals of enhancing support and appreciation for the arts, feelings of creativity and confidence among all ages, and opportunities to experience cultural events in their rural area have lead them to putting on six to seven wonderful productions a year. From classic musicals to funky plays, the creative directors of the Church Hill Theatre strive to reach a variety of audiences through humor, romance, and horror. Running from late September through the first weekend in October, there is still time to catch a performance of The 25th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee; a musical comedy directed by Ricky Vilanovec.

“The 25th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee is not one of your typical plays. It will appeal to the audience and bring some fun into the theatre!” says Vilanovec who has been with the Churchill Theatre for about a year. The musical is about seven spellers who each have their own quirks, life stories, and reasons they want to be the spelling bee winner. Although Vilanovec declares this is one of the more challenging plays he has attacked, he is confident the chosen actors are going to be phenomenal. “Choosing the cast was difficult. They had to have the right body type, the right vocal range, and the right personalities to pull off these interesting characters,” explains the master behind the magic. While changing the script would be illegal, Vilanovec intends his vision to showcase, “I always encourage the cast to take liberties” he says. Although most of the cast have been on the Churchill stage before, Vilanovec explains anything could happen since the musical is known for incorporating four audience members who are substitutes for the four missing members needed to begin the spelling bee according to rules.

“My job is to make the script come alive on stage, take what the playwright gave us and make it engaging. But it’s not just me, it takes a team to put on a great production,” says Vilanovec. His mission in directing this play is to show the audience that it is okay to be different. Our differences are what make us who we are. In hopes that the play will send this message through its outcast characters, Vilanovec says “It would be a pretty boring place if we were all the same.” Almost, Maine by John Cariani and directed by Michael C. Whitehill will open at the theater on November 4th and run through November 20th. For more information about shows go to: