TRU theatre student Melissa-Allyson Lyons in The 25th Annual Putnam Spelling Bee


Fiona Brown, Contributor  Ω

Western Canada Theatre invites you to join their last performance of this season. The group’s latest play will be taking place at the Pavilion and will involve participation from four audience volunteers. Titled The 25th Annual Putnam Spelling Bee, the play is a hilarious musical comedy by Rebecca Feldman with music and lyrics by William Finn. It stars six unique children (played by adults) and three quirky grown-ups.

Melissa-Allyson Lyons is a theatre student at Thompson Rivers University. She plays the role of Marcy Park who placed ninth at last year’s National Spelling Bee. Her character is a magnified version of a typical over-achiever who is great at everything (and who eventually learns how to be much more nonchalant by the end of the show).

Although Lyons does not entirely relate to Marcy’s perfectionist persona, she does believe that audiences will find glimpses of themselves or someone they have encountered in several of the personalities onstage.

Lyons is relatively new in the acting community, at least in comparison to her colleague Greg Armstrong-Morris, although both are newly part of the Western Canada Theatre group.

Morris plays William Barféewho lacks social graces but was a finalist in the spelling bee the previous year and eliminated due to an unfortunate incident. He is competing again using his successful “magic foot” trick where he uses his foot to spell out the letters of the word. During the competition Barfée encounters a ‘sticky’ situation and develops a crush for another competitor.

The show consists of songs with titles like My friend the dictionary, I’m not that smart, My unfortunate erection and others that identify the characters’ various challenges.

Lyons and Morris seem to be enjoying themselves. Morris says they learn a lot from one another, whether it’s Lyons having the opportunity to learn from an actor with more experience, or Morris learning from Lyons’ younger perspective.

Each promotes the importance of having an education in theatre. They believe it helps prepare individuals for the intricacies of the stage. It is what gives actors a foundation to build new experiences.

Acting, Lyons and Morris agree, has to be your passion. Lyons says she does not know what else she would pursue if she were not acting, and Armstrong-Morris admits he has tried other interests but always returns to the craft. Although he is not sure of his next project he is optimistic something will turn up, and says not knowing is part of the excitement of his career path.

Take a break from exams and go out and celebrate the end of term by sharing in the laughter of The 25th Annual Putnam Spelling Bee from Apr. 19 to May 5.

Tickets are available at the Kamloops Live Box Office at 1025 Lorne St., 250-374-5483,