STEMA GS Secondary Department holds its Annual Musical Presentation with a Spelling Bee

 By: Ms. Nadia Kathleen T. Manalaysay, Secondary Department


Last May 12, 2023, Stella Maris Gading Serpong Secondary Department held its annual musical presentation at Getsemani Hall with their adaptation of William Finn’s “The 25th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee Musical”.

Two Secondary English teachers, Ms. Lorna Coma, and Ms. Nadia Kathleen Manalaysay, spearheaded the musical. Ms. Lorna helped in the auditions and practices while Ms. Nadia managed the whole production as the trainer and director.

“The 25th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee Musical” won the Tony and Drama Desk Awards for Best Book. It is a fast-paced, hilarious, and moving book by Rachel Shainkin and very fresh and lively music by William Finn makes this musical an unforgettable experience.  Moreover, it has captivated audiences across the world with its lighthearted wit and humor.

It revolves around a fictional spelling bee set in the geographically ambiguous Putnam Valley Middle School. Six eccentric teenagers, led by her three adults who are also eccentric, compete against each other in The Bee. This motley group battles it out for the Spelling Championship of Life. Throughout the musical, they share candidly hilarious and inspiring stories from their personal lives. The cast spells out a series of words and if they were misspelled, they would hear the bell. The winner becomes the champion! On the other hand, the loser gets a juice box.

Two shows were done for the primary and secondary departments.

The cast underwent auditions and training for almost three months to fit in the characters for the play. They also had vocalization training to enhance their singing prowess.

There are nine main cast and three additional characters for the musical. The other cast also played the ensemble for some parts. The following students were the cast for the musical:

  1. Brandon Evander (7A) – Leon Mendoza/ Chorus/ Dad Dan/ Leaf’s Sibling,
  2. Metta Pandita Wongso (9 B) – Rose Tweezums/ Chorus/ Voice Over/ Leaf’s Sibling/ Angel,
  3. Dominique Deitra Sugito (9 C) – Catherine Shim/ Chorus/ Voice Over/ Dad Carl/ Olive’s Mom/ Leaf’s Sibling,
  4. Jocelyn Christabel Purnama Hendry (9 A) – Rona Lisa Peretti,
  5. Martinus Edward Clay Untung (9 B) – Vice Principal Panch,
  6. Nadine Ameliyani Wicaksono (11 – St. Evan) – Mitch Mahoney/ Olive’s Dad,
  7. Gregorius Yobel Wijaya (9 C) – Chip Tolentino/ Jesus/ Leaf’s Sibling,
  8. Nikita Dameasih Putri Sitorus (11 – St. Ernest) – Leaf Coneybear/ Peggy Jenkins/ Choreographer/ Angel,
  9. Laurencia Raelyn Laksmono (9 A) – Marcy Park/ Leaf’s Sibling,
  10. Martha Phoebe de Lourdes (9 B) – Logainne Schwarzandgrubenniere/ Leaf’s Mom,
  11. Shaelynn Chang (7 B) – Olive’s Ostrovsky/ Leaf’s Sibling, and
  12. Cindy Tirza Wiranto (11 – St. Ernest) – William Barfee/ Leaf’s Dad.

“This musical taught me a lot. This was my first role where a lot of the main cast had to synchronize singing and dancing. It was fun but it was confusing at first since the cast made the musical our rendition. This experience led us to work together and help each other out. In the original musical, most of the characters don’t have any interactions within the play but we added some interactions within the act itself. All the cast became closer so it was fun to work with everyone!” exclaimed Cindy (William Barfee).

She added, “I have to be honest, it did take me out in a lot of classes but on the other hand, this helps me on thinking what I want to do. When I think back, I like playing as Barfee. It does make my school year more lively and exciting! In the end, as a student, my scores also matter but I don’t have any problems regarding academics so I can safely say I don’t regret joining the musical!”

Shaelynn (Olive Ostrovsky) stated, “This musical developed my acting skills deeply. I also learned how to improve my stamina so I can be agile in doing the actions. I could say that the practices messed up my schedule a bit and made my grades go down; however, I was able to manage my time wisely.”

Nikita (Leaf Coneybear) said, “I learned to explore and interpret the character in my way, and not copy the original actors. I tried to relate Leaf’s character to myself and how it would feel if I was in his shoes, so I did a lot of research and try to relate things that I had in common with him. It reminded me that I am also smart; since Leaf doubted himself but as soon as the musical goes on, he realizes that he has so much more to offer and he knows he is smart regardless of what his family or other people tell him. I LOVE PLAYING LEAF!”

The musical included heartwarming solo performances and lively group songs with choreography. The following songs were featured in this musical:

  1. The 25th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee (Opening Song),
  2. The Spelling Rules/ My Favorite Moment of the Bee,
  3. My Friend, The Dictionary (Olive’s Solo),
  4. Goodbye Song,
  5. Pandemonium (Chip’s Solo and Group Song),
  6. I’m not that Smart (Coneybear’s Solo),
  7. Magic Foot (Barfee’s Solo and Group Song),
  8. Prayer of the Comfort Counselor (Mitch Mahoney’s Solo),
  9. Woe is Me (Schwarzy’s Solo and Group Song),
  10. I Speak Six Languages (Marcy’s Solo),
  11. The I Love You Song (Olive and Her Parents’ Song),
  12. Finale Song (Olive, Barfee, and Rona’s Song), and
  13. The Last Goodbye (all cast).

The cast’s two favorite songs were “Pandemonium” and “Magic Foot”.

Some of the cast had experiences in different school presentations/ programs so it was easy for them to be on stage. Clay (VP Panch) and Yobel (Chip) were two of the first-timers to be cast in a school musical like this.

Clay stated, “I feel very excited being on stage and playing my role as VP Panch. It wasn’t my first time on stage but doing a musical is. My role as VP Panch taught me to be more patient and be more tolerant to people.”

“It was my first time to be cast in a musical. I feel so happy to be one of the characters and it was a new experience for me. I learned that Chip was a very ambitious person because he is willing to work as hard as he can to win the spelling bee.” Yobel exclaimed.

In the end, William Barfee emerged as the spelling bee champion while Olive Ostrovsky won first runner-up. The crowd’s favorite character was Leaf Coneybear.

Overall, it was fun to spell out words and sing lively songs at the same time! See you at the next school musical!

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