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The #1 student news site of Yorba Linda High School

The Wrangler

The #1 student news site of Yorba Linda High School

The Wrangler

YL Spotlight Theater: The 25th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee

Jennalyn Urquico
Spotlight Theater’s production of Spelling Bee features students from YLHS including Addy Shoup(11), Jennalyn Urquico(11), Nathan Song(10), and Emily Lillemoen(12).

The Yorba Linda Spotlight Theater Company, an organization for the performing arts, put on a hilarious production of the musical “The 25th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee” during the first and second week of March. The musical starred a couple of talented students from YLHS, such as Emily Lillemoen (12), Jennalyn Urquico (11), Addy Shoup (11), and Nathan Song (10).


Spelling Bee is about six eccentric spelling champions who later learn that winning is not what holds value. The six tweens that enter this spelling bee are Chip (who struggles with the effects of puberty), Coneybear (who is an eclectic homeschooler), Marcy (who is a consistent overachiever), Schwarzy (who is exceptionally politically aware; played by Addie Shoup), Barfee (who perfectly fits the mold of a “nerd;” played by Nathan Song), and Olive (who struggles with confidence; played by Jennalyn Urquico). The musical takes place in a school gym and outlines the entire spelling bee event from start to finish. Each speller is called up to the mike to spell bizarre words; each character has unique spelling techniques, and they all fear the sound of the terrifying “ding” of the bell, which signifies a spelling mistake. Throughout the musical, we hear various hilarious songs with wacky dancing about each of the six spellers, providing a backstory of their dreams, wants, fears, and stories. 


Spelling Bee was unlike any of the productions I’ve seen Yorba Linda before. Walking into the humble theater, I noticed the room with the audience already laughing. Having sat down, I noticed that some of the musical’s cast members were already in character, interacting with the audience. Shaking each other’s hands and introducing themselves, they interacted with other cast members as if it was genuinely their first time meeting before the spelling bee and with the audience as they pranced down the aisles. As the cast intermittently filed into the theater (already in character), I was impressed with how fully they embodied their characters. Each cast manifested someone entirely different from themselves; they could recite their character’s life story if anyone asked.


Another aspect of the production I loved was the incorporation of the audience into the musical. At the beginning of the show, Peretti, the moderator of the spelling bee, calls up three audience members chosen at random. They are then sat between cast members, and each is called up to spell a word or later join in a music sequence. Snarky remarks before they spelled a word, like, “This speller was potty trained just a week ago!” made the audience erupt with laughter. What’s more, Chip, one of the six spellers, serenades an audience member in the aisle with a song about his unfortunate “accident.” The embarrassing nature of his accident was sure to fire up the room.

It was so funny to act off their [the audience’s] genuine reactions.

— Jennalyn Urquico (11)

The intimate nature of the theater made the experience all the more special. The interaction with the audience and the collective laughter of the entire room created a moment that couldn’t be replicated. The spontaneous improvisation of the cast and the quirks of that specific audience for the night produced an authentic moment in time. Jennalynn Urquico(11), who plays Olive, reflects, “It was so cool getting to interact with the audience throughout the whole of the show because it was so funny to act off their genuine reactions. Especially before the show, interacting with my friends in the audience made it ten times funnier.” 


Even outside our school’s theater, Yorba Linda has various organizations that perform remarkable shows, such as the Spelling Bee. Be sure to look out for future productions and support the city’s performing arts!

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About the Contributors
Tiffany Im
Tiffany Im, Photojournalist
Tiffany is a junior at Yorba Linda High School. In school, she is a part of the women’s tennis team and is an Event Coordinator for Dreamcatchers club. Outside of school, she spends her time volunteering weekly at the city’s library, acting as a student arts ambassador for the YLAAF, attending Ryman Arts as a student, and working at Trader Joe’s. Outside of that, her hobbies include listening to music, watching movies or TV shows, and spending time with family. She loves to challenge herself academically and creatively in and out of school. Tiffany is always looking to involve herself in new opportunities, such as joining the school’s newspaper staff.
Jennalyn Urquico
Jennalyn Urquico, Photojournalist
Jennalyn Urquico is a junior at Yorba Linda High School. Jennalyn is a very passionate writer who loves to paint stories through words. She has an identical twin sister, a little sister, and loving parents. At YLHS, Jennalyn is the vice president of the club Impacting My Peers As a Christian Teen (IMPACT) and the historian of the Mustang Theatre Company. Jennalyn is also part of Yorba Linda’s Girls National Charity League. She is involved in musical theater at YLHS and has loved singing for as long as she can remember. She loves to read and hang out with her family and friends in her free time. She is so excited to be writing for The Wrangler this year and hopes to write some inspiring and exciting stories for everyone to read!

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