Theatre department rehearses for upcoming play amid campus closure


Asyah Zamani

Cosumnes River College’s department of theatre arts held a rehearsal for their upcoming musical play called “The 25th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee” at the Black Box Theatre on Wednesday. The actors in the play are waiting for the rehearsal to begin.

Cosumnes River College’s department of theatre arts held a rehearsal for their upcoming musical play called “The 25th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee” at the Black Box Theatre on Wednesday.
Adjunct Theatre Arts Professor Ryan Perez Adame, the director of the play, said the play is a musical about six contestants between the ages of 10 and 13 who are in the fictional Putnam County Spelling Bee. He also said there are three adults in the play, which are a vice principal, a woman who is a realtor and a gentleman doing his community service.
“We learned some specific things about the spellers and their backgrounds, where they come from, who they are, as well as the actors playing adults in the play, that’s sort of the literal part of it,” Perez Adame said. “It’s a really beautiful musical, I think for a lot of folks who aren’t fans of musicals, they have a certain idea of what musicals are and spelling bee is sort of a different breed of musical to me.”
Perez Adame said the themes of the play encompass acceptance, creation, isolation and community. “It’s about recognizing different ways of learning, different ways to be who you are and about self acceptance, a little bit about chosen family,” Perez Adame said.
For purchasing tickets, the play is doing a “pay what you can” at any price between $0 to $50, according to the CRC Theatre and Dance Arts website. The idea was thought up by the Dean of Arts, Media and Entertainment Brian Rickel.
“Pay what you can is a really important part of taking away the barriers for everyone in all of our different communities to come and see live theater,” Perez Adame said. “If you want to come and you can’t afford to pay anything or you can only afford to pay a dollar or $2 or $5, pay whatever, just come. If you can pay nothing, you can still come see the play.”
Perez Adame explained how the stage of the play is put together by students, technical faculty and design faculty. This is what people will see when they come to see the show.
“Typically in a show, what you do is the designers work with the director and we sort of envision the thing together,” Perez Adame said. “The set designer, Scott Gilbert for this show and I had a little conversation back and forth about what I wanted to see on the set. He had what he wanted to see, we worked together and one of our assistants who’s a student helped draft plans.”
Perez Adame said it was hard to rehearse for the play because the campus was closed due to the recent threat of violence incident on Nov. 21.
“This week that we’re in, the week that the show opened, it’s called tech week. It’s the week where you put the show on the stage in its final form and you add all the technical elements like light and sound and microphones and costumes and we lost several rehearsals because of that,” Perez Adame said.
Perez Adame said the faculty came to campus for a couple of hours during the campus closure.
“Our faculty was working extra hard to get the set built,” Perez Adame said. “Normally, we would have been like three or four days ahead of where we are right now. Everyone came together and they’ve been working their butts off.”
Twenty-nine-year-old music performance major Roman Stewart said he is portraying the character William Morris Barfeé in the play. He also explained the campus lockdown and how the actors rehearsed at Musical Mayhem Productions and Cosumnes Oaks High School in Elk Grove.
“We had to see if we can have rehearsals outside somewhere else to do before they cleared for us to come back on campus,” Stewart said. “This is my first musical, I’ve been wanting to do stuff like this since I was born.”
Nineteen-year-old electrical engineering major Tejon Raiford-Haygood said he is portraying Vice Principal Douglas Panch in the play. He also said that he is feeling good about rehearsals for the play.
“It was tough to get through the lockdown and we had to switch up our locations a lot, but we got through it and we worked together as a team to make everything work smoothly,” Raiford-Haygood said. “They had all the equipment we needed so we can do the show. All you really need for the vice principal is table and chairs for the kids in the play.”
The first showing of “The 25th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee” play will be on Dec. 2 at 7:30 p.m. at the CRC Black Box Theatre. For more information about the play’s performance dates, click here.