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The 25th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee pretty much delivers on its title: the focus of its story is on a spelling contest. Young regional winners hope to qualify for the National Bee and a shot at further prizes and glory. To get into the local bee, you've got to have some smarts. So this unusual musical celebrates the intelligence of young people. The contestants are a mixed bunch: A chunky, defensively antagonistic boy who uses his foot to spell; a young girl whose mother is literally an ocean away; a boy who consistently doubts his own intelligence and self-worth; a girl from a family of ethnic overachievers who wishes that she wasn't expected to be perfect; the daughter of two fussy gay dads; and more. There's also an interesting wrinkle. Following the model of the original Broadway production, several people will be pulled from the audience and asked to participate in the contest. Who will be the winner? Who will go on to represent Putnam County in the National Bee for more renown and bigger prizes? As with other competitions, there will be the agony of defeat, but also the thrill of victory.

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