REVIEW: Incline’s “Spelling Bee” Has Audiences Buzzing 

Review by Molly Alderson

You won’t want to miss this summer’s hit musical, The 25th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee, at the Warsaw Incline Theatre, now through July 30th. 

Step into the world of a group of pre-teens vying for the title of Spelling Bee champion in the Putnam County Bee. With an exceptional cast showcasing some of Cincinnati’s finest, the performers flawlessly embody their characters’ idiosyncrasies and enduring spirit throughout the production. 

The Cast

Maria Zierolf (Olive Ostrovsky), Matthew Callas (Chip Tolentino), Aaron Schilling (Leaf Coneybear), Tre Taylor (William Barfee), Zoe Zoller (Logainne Schwartzandgrunenierre), and Savannah Boyd (Marcy Park) captivated audiences with their heartfelt narratives, endearing spelling rituals, ad personal motivations for winning The Bee. 

The show also includes three ‘adult characters’ who are as unique as the competitors themselves. Tyler Gau (Douglas Panch, the Vice Principal) delivers deadpan humor with impeccable timing, sprinkling the performance with clever one-liners. Emily Borst (Rona Lisa Peretti), a former spelling bee champ, gracefully propels the storyline forward with their melodious vocals and undeniable gusto. Additionally, Flowy Ebony (Mich Mahoney the Official Comfort Counselor) injects an edgy quality to the earnest children while showcasing an impressive vocal range. 


Overall the show possesses an ability to pull at the audience’s heartstrings, resurfacing deeply rooted memories from adolescence while exploring themes such as puberty, perfectionism, and fear of abandonment. Then, it gently releases these emotions with witty jokes or surprising one-liners. The production navigates the fine line between irreverence and poignant storytelling, a staple of many beloved modern musicals. 

Cast of "Spelling Bee."
Cast of “Spelling Bee” at Warsaw Federal Incline Theatre.

The 25th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee demands an extraordinary level of skill from its cast. All nine characters remain on stage for nearly the entire performance, each bearing equal weight in ensuring the success of the show. While a few characters may become audience favorites, there is no clear lead or ensemble, as every performer’s designated song feels like a memorable highlight.

Production Team

Kudos to the superb production team, headed by Stacy Searle, Director. Also, Mark Femia, Music Director; Zac Holman, Choreographer and Jasmine Cosma, Production Stage Manager, who helped bring the performance to life. 

Get Your Tickets

Get your tickets to Incline Theatre’s The 25th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee now (CLICK HERE!) and prepare to be d-e-l-i-g-h-t-e-d.