The 25th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee
The 25th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee was produced by ACT of Connecticut in June of 2019. It was directed by Michelle Tattenbaum, choreographed by Ilana Ransom Toeplitz, and music directed by Katya Stanislavskaya.
This production involved several challenges for sound. The show is famous for having audience participation, so we needed to have a stage microphone in addition to actor microphones. Since the actors also used that microphone when spelling, A1 Dan Gonko and I were careful to use different EQ's for their head mics versus the spelling mic. This gave the spelling moments a cohesive realism that could be broken simply by switching their source.
We also had a five-piece band that was fully isolated behind the stage. While this helped with bleed and vocal clarity, it meant that all of the instrumentation would be amplified with no acoustic energy. Dan and I spent a lot of time making sure that the instruments sounded as present as possible while leaving space in the mix to give the actors absolute clarity.
There was a moment in the spelling montage in which the actors go into slow-motion spelling and then snap into hyper-speed. We accentuated this moment by engaging a huge, deep reverb and then cutting back to a dry signal for hyper-speed. This added to the comedy of the moment and created extra suspense.
The result was a tight but fresh take on a familiar musical that audiences and critics enjoyed.
Check out this video of my amazing A1, Dan Gonko, mixing the opening number!
Director: Michelle Tattenbaum
Music Director: Katya Stanislavskaya
Choreographer: Ilana Ransom Toeplitz
Scenic Designer: Jack Mehler
Lighting Designer: Marika Kent
Costume Designer: Stephanie Levin
Sound Designer: Megan Culley
A1: Dan Gonko
A2: Natalie Houle