SJ Rep Theater Interview: Cast of The 25th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee – Part 1

Loni sits down with three of the cast members of the SJ Rep Theater production ‘The 25th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee’ to discuss acting, musicals, and, of course, spelling. Do they know their ABCs?

In this interview:

  • Marc De La Cruz as Chip Tolentino
  • Dani Marcus as Olive Ostrovsky
  • Clifton Guterman as Leaf Coneybear

The production is directed by Timothy Near in her swan song for the Rep (she received a standing ovation, along with the cast, on opening night). Rick Lombardo will begin a new era of artistic leadership starting with the 2009/2010 season.

Stay tuned for Part 2 coming soon. Also, we have a special surprise bonus featuring assistant director and motion consultant Amanda Folena.

Stark Insider Presents: ‘The 25th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee’ Cast Interview

Part 1 – ‘Getting to know the cast’
Part 2 – ‘The audience, staying in character’
Part 3 – ‘Relating to the Bee, Barfee’s hair’
Bonus – The ‘Spelling Bee’ Theater Training: So You Think You Can Dance Edition with Amanda Folena, Assistant Director

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  • Loni Kao Stark

    After the filming of the interview, I had a good conversation with the cast around the actual Scripps National Spelling Bee. Just today read an article that made me think of the characters in the play about a San Jose teen advancing in this year's contest.<br />
    <br />
    Particular quote: &quot;Wearing her lucky pair of red-and-white sneakers, a San Jose eighth-grader advanced to the semifinals of the Scripps National Spelling Bee today, becoming one of only 41 spellers to make it past the preliminary rounds.&quot;<br />
    <br />
    Full article courtesy of Chronicle Washington Bureau:<br />
    =======================================<br />
    <br />
    San Jose teen advances in National Spelling Bee<br />
    Amy D'Onofrio, Chronicle Washington Bureau<br />
    <br />
    Wednesday, May 27, 2009<br />
    <br />
    Wearing her lucky pair of red-and-white sneakers, a San Jose eighth-grader advanced to the semifinals of the Scripps National Spelling Bee today, becoming one of only 41 spellers to make it past the preliminary rounds.<br />
    <br />
    Ramya Auroprem, 13, correctly spelled &quot;humorous&quot; and &quot;phonasthenia,&quot; a word which means weakness or hoarseness of voice, in the two rounds of oral competition today and scored high enough on Tuesday's written test to move on in the competition.<br />
    <br />
    &quot;[I feel] really good, glad I made the cut. I know there was a lot of competition,&quot; Ramya said after the semifinalists were announced. The Bay Area spelling champion, sponsored at the National Bee by The Chronicle, scored 29 points from spelling in the first three rounds, one more than the number necessary to make the semis.<br />
    <br />
    Though Ramya said she was nervous because it was her first time at the National Bee, she appeared calm onstage throughout the oral rounds in the ballroom of the Grand Hyatt Hotel. Wearing the same sneakers that she first started wearing before her regional spelling bee, she spoke clearly and without hesitation between letters as she spelled.<br />
    <br />
    &quot;I expected that she would make it,&quot; said her father, Auroprem Kandaswami, prompting his daughter to laugh. Her mother, Lakshmi Auroprem, said, &quot;I hope she's strong tomorrow. It takes a lot of courage to be up there.&quot;<br />
    <br />
    The points broke down this way: 25 points for a perfect score on the written test taken Tuesday, three points for the first oral round today and three points for the second oral round. A perfect score would be 31 points.<br />
    <br />
    The national competition began Tuesday when spellers took a 25-word written test. The public part of the competition began today, with successive oral rounds until only one speller is left standing.<br />
    <br />
    The semifinals, on Thursday, will be aired live on ESPN. The final rounds of competition will be broadcast later in prime time on ABC.<br />
    <br />
    Also Thursday, Vice President Joe Biden's wife, Dr. Jill Biden – an English professor at Northern Virginia Community College – will address Bee participants.<br />
    <br />
    The champion takes home more than $40,000 in cash, scholarships and other prizes.<br />
    <br />
    Every speller leaves the contest with at least $100 in cash.<br />
    <br />
    The national spelling bee is an annual rite of spring in the nation's capital. Anxious parents and spellers gather in the basement of a downtown hotel room for the syllabic showdown.<br />
    <br />
    This year's competition is the biggest yet, with 150 boys and 143 girls coming to compete from all 50 states and such countries as China, Germany and Ghana. They range in age from 9 to 15 years old.<br />
    <br />
    Of the spellers, 186 are public school students, 36 are home-schooled, 39 attend private schools, 24 attend parochial schools and eight attend charter schools.<br />
    <br />
    A survey by the bee sponsors showed that this year's spellers named pizza as their favorite food, the J.K. Rowling series on Harry Potter as their favorite fiction reading and the &quot;Lord of the Rings&quot; trilogy as their favorite film. Basketball was the most popular sport, math was their favorite school subject and the most popular career goal was to be a physician.

  • Loni Kao Stark

    After the filming of the interview, I had a good conversation with the cast around the actual Scripps National Spelling Bee. Just today read an article that made me think of the characters in the play about a San Jose teen advancing in this year's contest.<br />
    <br />
    Particular quote: &quot;Wearing her lucky pair of red-and-white sneakers, a San Jose eighth-grader advanced to the semifinals of the Scripps National Spelling Bee today, becoming one of only 41 spellers to make it past the preliminary rounds.&quot;<br />
    <br />
    Full article courtesy of Chronicle Washington Bureau:<br />
    =======================================<br />
    <br />
    San Jose teen advances in National Spelling Bee<br />
    Amy D'Onofrio, Chronicle Washington Bureau<br />
    <br />
    Wednesday, May 27, 2009<br />
    <br />
    Wearing her lucky pair of red-and-white sneakers, a San Jose eighth-grader advanced to the semifinals of the Scripps National Spelling Bee today, becoming one of only 41 spellers to make it past the preliminary rounds.<br />
    <br />
    Ramya Auroprem, 13, correctly spelled &quot;humorous&quot; and &quot;phonasthenia,&quot; a word which means weakness or hoarseness of voice, in the two rounds of oral competition today and scored high enough on Tuesday's written test to move on in the competition.<br />
    <br />
    &quot;[I feel] really good, glad I made the cut. I know there was a lot of competition,&quot; Ramya said after the semifinalists were announced. The Bay Area spelling champion, sponsored at the National Bee by The Chronicle, scored 29 points from spelling in the first three rounds, one more than the number necessary to make the semis.<br />
    <br />
    Though Ramya said she was nervous because it was her first time at the National Bee, she appeared calm onstage throughout the oral rounds in the ballroom of the Grand Hyatt Hotel. Wearing the same sneakers that she first started wearing before her regional spelling bee, she spoke clearly and without hesitation between letters as she spelled.<br />
    <br />
    &quot;I expected that she would make it,&quot; said her father, Auroprem Kandaswami, prompting his daughter to laugh. Her mother, Lakshmi Auroprem, said, &quot;I hope she's strong tomorrow. It takes a lot of courage to be up there.&quot;<br />
    <br />
    The points broke down this way: 25 points for a perfect score on the written test taken Tuesday, three points for the first oral round today and three points for the second oral round. A perfect score would be 31 points.<br />
    <br />
    The national competition began Tuesday when spellers took a 25-word written test. The public part of the competition began today, with successive oral rounds until only one speller is left standing.<br />
    <br />
    The semifinals, on Thursday, will be aired live on ESPN. The final rounds of competition will be broadcast later in prime time on ABC.<br />
    <br />
    Also Thursday, Vice President Joe Biden's wife, Dr. Jill Biden – an English professor at Northern Virginia Community College – will address Bee participants.<br />
    <br />
    The champion takes home more than $40,000 in cash, scholarships and other prizes.<br />
    <br />
    Every speller leaves the contest with at least $100 in cash.<br />
    <br />
    The national spelling bee is an annual rite of spring in the nation's capital. Anxious parents and spellers gather in the basement of a downtown hotel room for the syllabic showdown.<br />
    <br />
    This year's competition is the biggest yet, with 150 boys and 143 girls coming to compete from all 50 states and such countries as China, Germany and Ghana. They range in age from 9 to 15 years old.<br />
    <br />
    Of the spellers, 186 are public school students, 36 are home-schooled, 39 attend private schools, 24 attend parochial schools and eight attend charter schools.<br />
    <br />
    A survey by the bee sponsors showed that this year's spellers named pizza as their favorite food, the J.K. Rowling series on Harry Potter as their favorite fiction reading and the &quot;Lord of the Rings&quot; trilogy as their favorite film. Basketball was the most popular sport, math was their favorite school subject and the most popular career goal was to be a physician.

  • After the filming of the interview, I had a good conversation with the cast around the actual Scripps National Spelling Bee. Just today read an article that made me think of the characters in the play about a San Jose teen advancing in this year’s contest.

    Particular quote: “Wearing her lucky pair of red-and-white sneakers, a San Jose eighth-grader advanced to the semifinals of the Scripps National Spelling Bee today, becoming one of only 41 spellers to make it past the preliminary rounds.”

    Full article courtesy of Chronicle Washington Bureau:
    =======================================

    San Jose teen advances in National Spelling Bee
    Amy D’Onofrio, Chronicle Washington Bureau

    Wednesday, May 27, 2009

    Wearing her lucky pair of red-and-white sneakers, a San Jose eighth-grader advanced to the semifinals of the Scripps National Spelling Bee today, becoming one of only 41 spellers to make it past the preliminary rounds.

    Ramya Auroprem, 13, correctly spelled “humorous” and “phonasthenia,” a word which means weakness or hoarseness of voice, in the two rounds of oral competition today and scored high enough on Tuesday’s written test to move on in the competition.

    “[I feel] really good, glad I made the cut. I know there was a lot of competition,” Ramya said after the semifinalists were announced. The Bay Area spelling champion, sponsored at the National Bee by The Chronicle, scored 29 points from spelling in the first three rounds, one more than the number necessary to make the semis.

    Though Ramya said she was nervous because it was her first time at the National Bee, she appeared calm onstage throughout the oral rounds in the ballroom of the Grand Hyatt Hotel. Wearing the same sneakers that she first started wearing before her regional spelling bee, she spoke clearly and without hesitation between letters as she spelled.

    “I expected that she would make it,” said her father, Auroprem Kandaswami, prompting his daughter to laugh. Her mother, Lakshmi Auroprem, said, “I hope she’s strong tomorrow. It takes a lot of courage to be up there.”

    The points broke down this way: 25 points for a perfect score on the written test taken Tuesday, three points for the first oral round today and three points for the second oral round. A perfect score would be 31 points.

    The national competition began Tuesday when spellers took a 25-word written test. The public part of the competition began today, with successive oral rounds until only one speller is left standing.

    The semifinals, on Thursday, will be aired live on ESPN. The final rounds of competition will be broadcast later in prime time on ABC.

    Also Thursday, Vice President Joe Biden’s wife, Dr. Jill Biden – an English professor at Northern Virginia Community College – will address Bee participants.

    The champion takes home more than $40,000 in cash, scholarships and other prizes.

    Every speller leaves the contest with at least $100 in cash.

    The national spelling bee is an annual rite of spring in the nation’s capital. Anxious parents and spellers gather in the basement of a downtown hotel room for the syllabic showdown.

    This year’s competition is the biggest yet, with 150 boys and 143 girls coming to compete from all 50 states and such countries as China, Germany and Ghana. They range in age from 9 to 15 years old.

    Of the spellers, 186 are public school students, 36 are home-schooled, 39 attend private schools, 24 attend parochial schools and eight attend charter schools.

    A survey by the bee sponsors showed that this year’s spellers named pizza as their favorite food, the J.K. Rowling series on Harry Potter as their favorite fiction reading and the “Lord of the Rings” trilogy as their favorite film. Basketball was the most popular sport, math was their favorite school subject and the most popular career goal was to be a physician.

  • After the filming of the interview, I had a good conversation with the cast around the actual Scripps National Spelling Bee. Just today read an article that made me think of the characters in the play about a San Jose teen advancing in this year’s contest.

    Particular quote: “Wearing her lucky pair of red-and-white sneakers, a San Jose eighth-grader advanced to the semifinals of the Scripps National Spelling Bee today, becoming one of only 41 spellers to make it past the preliminary rounds.”

    Full article courtesy of Chronicle Washington Bureau:
    =======================================

    San Jose teen advances in National Spelling Bee
    Amy D’Onofrio, Chronicle Washington Bureau

    Wednesday, May 27, 2009

    Wearing her lucky pair of red-and-white sneakers, a San Jose eighth-grader advanced to the semifinals of the Scripps National Spelling Bee today, becoming one of only 41 spellers to make it past the preliminary rounds.

    Ramya Auroprem, 13, correctly spelled “humorous” and “phonasthenia,” a word which means weakness or hoarseness of voice, in the two rounds of oral competition today and scored high enough on Tuesday’s written test to move on in the competition.

    “[I feel] really good, glad I made the cut. I know there was a lot of competition,” Ramya said after the semifinalists were announced. The Bay Area spelling champion, sponsored at the National Bee by The Chronicle, scored 29 points from spelling in the first three rounds, one more than the number necessary to make the semis.

    Though Ramya said she was nervous because it was her first time at the National Bee, she appeared calm onstage throughout the oral rounds in the ballroom of the Grand Hyatt Hotel. Wearing the same sneakers that she first started wearing before her regional spelling bee, she spoke clearly and without hesitation between letters as she spelled.

    “I expected that she would make it,” said her father, Auroprem Kandaswami, prompting his daughter to laugh. Her mother, Lakshmi Auroprem, said, “I hope she’s strong tomorrow. It takes a lot of courage to be up there.”

    The points broke down this way: 25 points for a perfect score on the written test taken Tuesday, three points for the first oral round today and three points for the second oral round. A perfect score would be 31 points.

    The national competition began Tuesday when spellers took a 25-word written test. The public part of the competition began today, with successive oral rounds until only one speller is left standing.

    The semifinals, on Thursday, will be aired live on ESPN. The final rounds of competition will be broadcast later in prime time on ABC.

    Also Thursday, Vice President Joe Biden’s wife, Dr. Jill Biden – an English professor at Northern Virginia Community College – will address Bee participants.

    The champion takes home more than $40,000 in cash, scholarships and other prizes.

    Every speller leaves the contest with at least $100 in cash.

    The national spelling bee is an annual rite of spring in the nation’s capital. Anxious parents and spellers gather in the basement of a downtown hotel room for the syllabic showdown.

    This year’s competition is the biggest yet, with 150 boys and 143 girls coming to compete from all 50 states and such countries as China, Germany and Ghana. They range in age from 9 to 15 years old.

    Of the spellers, 186 are public school students, 36 are home-schooled, 39 attend private schools, 24 attend parochial schools and eight attend charter schools.

    A survey by the bee sponsors showed that this year’s spellers named pizza as their favorite food, the J.K. Rowling series on Harry Potter as their favorite fiction reading and the “Lord of the Rings” trilogy as their favorite film. Basketball was the most popular sport, math was their favorite school subject and the most popular career goal was to be a physician.