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Mason City students present ‘The 25th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee’ this weekend

Mason City students present ‘The 25th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee’ this weekend


A musical comedy about far more than a spelling bee will take the stage at North Iowa Community Auditorium this weekend.

The Mason City High School will perform “The 25th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee” – its 36th annual summer musical – at 7:30 p.m. Friday and Saturday on the North Iowa Area Community College campus, 500 College Drive, in Mason City.

“(The musical) is incredible fun for kids, but don’t think it is just a show for children,” said Joel Everist, summer musical director. “The themes of kindness, acceptance, self-esteem, fostering of imagination and faithfulness presented in this show are simple, yet universal enough to touch everyone’s heart.”

“The 25th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee” is a Tony Award-winning musical comedy about an eclectic group of six students vying for the championship of a lifetime.

Throughout the show, each speller reveals their hopes, struggles and passions, and they learn that losing doesn’t make you a loser, and they can stand out and fit in at the same time.

“Every character will represent something an audience member will connect with,” said Nathan Elsbernd, Mason City High School senior.

The musical ran on Broadway for 1,136 shows between 2005 and 2008 and has been translated into a variety of languages for stage performances worldwide.

Mason City High School is producing the school version of the musical, which is appropriate for the entire family, Everist said.

“This should produce a phenomenal show for our community that will prove to be an unforgettable evening,” he said.

Elsbernd was cast as Vice Principal Douglas Panch, who assists with the spelling bee competition.

He described Mr. Panch as a complex character who cares deeply about the spelling bee rules but is only at the competition for his love interest and spelling bee organizer Rona Peretti, played by Madi Judkins.

“Definitely come out and see the show,” he said. “We have a great cast. Everyone is doing outstanding on their parts.”

Elsbernd is appearing in his third Mason City High School summer musical alongside more than 30 students.

Those cast in “The 25th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee” are Madi Judkins, Rona Peretti; Nathan Elsbernd, Douglas Panch; Sophia Willis, Ms. Mahoney; Marcus Buttweiler, William Barfee; Kylie Hansen, Olive Ostrovsky; Makenna Hansen, Olive’s mom; Aden Stroup, Olive’s dad; Jennaya Everist, Logainne; Daniel Stephenson, Carl Schwartz; Lucas Bartholomew, Dan Grubenniere; Ava Ciaverelli, Marcy Park; Emma Garret, God; Aidan Colby, Leaf Coneybear; Grant Bohls, Chip; and spellers Banjo Banes, Bailey Erickson, Gretchen Garrett, Mia Godfrey, Jack Harty, Katie Lorence, Molly Lorence, Keagan May and Jayden Smith.

The ensemble includes Nathalie Angel, Tara Backhaus, Grace Davis, Candie Eliason, Britta Elsbernd, Nicholas Fallis, Erin Foss, Jacob Graves, Katelyn Hagenow, Avery Heinzerling, Kylie Hubacher, Gabi Johnson, Jaycee Knutson, Keri Larson, Raina Leet, Carter Moore, Madyson Penn, Dani Porter, Brooklyn Reich, Ethan Walthall, Kaitlyn Walthall and Ally Wilson.

Those in the musical crew are Joel Everist, director; Rachel Everist, assistant director; Tim Slaven, scenic designer; Sophia Ciavarelli, choreographer; Hannah Huey-Jones, staging/acting coach; and Rick Chitty, sound. The pit orchestra is Scott Bell, percussion; David Bell, percussion; Abby Ihlenfeldt, cello; and Maria Meyer, flute. The tech crew consists of Jackson Everist, Carsen Johnson, Cassie Judkins and Jordan Sheriff.

Advance tickets are $8 for adults and $6 for children 12 and younger and available at Hy-Vee East and West customer service desks. At the door, tickets cost $10 for adults and $8 for children. Seating is limited due to contractual obligations, so purchasing tickets in advance is strongly encouraged.

For more information, call 641-421-4506 or visit

Star Class 2019: Mason City's top students and athletes

Reach Reporter Ashley Stewart at 641-421-0533. Follow her on Twitter at GGastewart.


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