Eternal Sunshine of the Student Mind“The 25th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee” may have closed, but the things I learned while doing it haven’t left me quite yet.

That’s something amazing about the performances I do here at Gannon; they never really leave even after the set is torn down and the cast disperses, and that’s awesome. 

Learning to rely on others is often a terrifyingly difficult skill to learn. Having help around you is one thing, but needing it at an alarming rate of occurrence is entirely another. In this case, the entire show rested solidly on every character’s shoulders for the entire length of the performance. We were all on stage for almost the entire show, meaning we needed to stay engaged and active for a full two hours or else no one could be successful.

Each performer – regardless of the role he or she played – needed the constant support of everyone else – as well as audience members, like my brother – to make the show a coherent whole. Luis Pontillo, who played the word pronouncer Douglas Panch, needed to give words to each of the six spellers (I played one of the spellers, Olive Ostrovsky). The spellers then needed to give the correct spelling and sing a solo as well as a group number. We also were faced with the challenge of progressing the show in a manner that allowed participating audience members to act as a part of our group and understand what was going on ; these four previously unsuspecting theater-goers  spelled on stage along with the actors with very little previous instructions.

If you didn’t happen to catch the show on Gannon’s campus to see what I mean, check out these two clips from the performance.

The first is a number towards the end of the performance where we see young Olive Ostrovsky (the awkward middle school girl who just wanted her parents to come see her thrive at the bee) contemplate the exciting possibility of coming in first or second place.

The second shows one of our brave audience volunteers (this one in particular happened to be my younger brother, Jason) as he tries to spell one of the most difficult words in the English language: Lysergic acid diethylamide. (Go ahead, close your eyes… can you spell it?)

Stuff you might also like: Interested in seeing more from the Schuster Theatre? Here’s a video from another show we did this year, “Nevermore.” I’m the one on the far right!