Red Oak theater class performs musical '25th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee'

By Patty Hullett
For the Daily Light

Jericho Thomas, third-year theater teacher at Red Oak High School, is the acting and technical director of the Broadway musical, "The 25th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee," which will be performed at the high school May 21-22.

This 2005 Tony award-winning production will have Thomas’ theater students as his actors in this production, which features the hilarious, heartwarming musical about awkward, school-age spellers vying for the ultimate prize: a spot in the National Spelling Bee. A proven crowd-pleaser, "Putnam" also invites audience volunteers at every show to come onstage to compete in the bee (with predictably entertaining results).

The Red Oak cast of "The 25th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee" musical.

In addition to Thomas leading the way will be Keith Lathrom, helping with music direction; Arikka Harakal and Ashleigh Pope (handle lifts and additional choreography); Donae Swanson, who assist directs; David Tucker on lights; Luis Reyes on sound; Nicholas Todd on the spotlight; and Colton Perdue running the backstage.

The Red Oak student cast members are as follows:

Ella Simpson, Jr., plays Olive Ostrovsky

Landon Blanton, Sr., plays William Barfeé 

Jayden Douglas, Jr., plays bee host Rona Lisa Peretti

Nathan Wilson, Sr., plays Vice Principal Douglas Panch

Avery Culpepper, Sr., plays Logainne Schwartzandgrubenierre

Brooklynn Sherman, Sr., plays Marcy Park

José Moreno, Jr., plays Chip Tolentino

Omar Chavez, Fr., plays Leaf Coneybear

and Davion Mouton, Sr., plays Mitch Mahoney

Thomas says, “We will be using pre-recorded music for our musical productions this spring, but we are hopeful for live accompaniment from our Mighty Hawk Band in the future! It has been amazing to be back doing live theater again after the pandemic shutdowns. We hope our show brings audiences a hopeful, laugh-filled end to another crazy year of being man-handled by COVID-19."

As an FYI, Thomas says "Putnam" is rated PG-13 for minor language and jokes about puberty.

He continues, “This year, with COVID still a hazard, we have opted to perform a musical with a smaller cast and crew. Students receive a grade for rehearsal work during the school day, but give their after-school time freely to make the show the best it can be Around 220 students are enrolled currently in the Hawk Theatre program.”

Ticket information

The Friday and Saturday (May 21 and 22) production is open to the public. The performing arts center will be at 25% capacity - 300 socially-distanced seats per performance are available.

Audiences need to be masked; performers will perform unmasked onstage.

Admission is $10 for adults, or $8 for students. Tickets can be purchased at the door or online at: