|Lindsey Brenz as Logainne Schwartzandgrubenierre|
Remember middle school? Do you recall those carefree days of your youth when kids were friendly and helpful and nobody made fun of you and everyone just accepted you for who you are? Yeah … neither do I. In fact, our teenage years can be among the most dramatic, traumatic and angst-ridden times of our lives. Such is the backdrop for The 25th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee, a musical comedy that centers on a fictional spelling bee at Putnam Valley Middle School. Six quirky adolescents compete in the bee, which is run by three “grown-ups,” although I use that term loosely. The “kids” are played by adults in nine performances; the three Saturday matinees feature 12-to-16 year-old spellers along with the regular adult cast. Another interesting twist is that four audience members (including some local celebrities) will be spellers at each performance and actually compete in the bee!
If you think spelling challenging words in front of a live audience is tough, you’ll get little sympathy from Logainne Schwartzandgrubenierre (aka “Schwartzy”), whose last name alone would knock most spellers from the competition. In the Farmington Players production, Schwartzy is played by Lindsey Brenz (age 24) in the main cast and Hallie Fox (age 15) in the youth cast. For her part, Lindsey describes her character Schwartzy as “extremely intelligent, strong-willed, yet innocent, and hilarious! I adore everything about this girl. This role is particularly challenging for me because Schwartzy speaks with a lisp and that’s something I don’t have a lot of experience with.” Lindsey says that being in Spelling Bee has “always been a dream show of mine. My cast mates joke that I am the ‘Spelling Bee expert,’ which is true in a way. I have loved and followed this show for many years. Schwartzy in particular is the main reason why I fell in love with the show.”
Lindsey knows that “audiences will admire the charm of this show. Each character is very relatable and has moments of vulnerability which will either pull at your heart or make you smile.” So how does Lindsey relate to her character’s challenges? As she says, “Schwartzy has two very strict and controlling fathers. She struggles and tries so hard to make them proud. I think this is something we can all relate to. Everyone has that one person in their life that they want to please. Personally, I always strive to make my mom proud. She shares similar qualities with Schwartzy’s dads. No, she is not strict or controlling like the dads, but she has been a ‘coach’ for me throughout my acting career.”
Lindsey has enjoyed bonding with her castmates, saying, “I have never been in a show where a cast bonds as fast as we did! We truly have become a family in a very short period of time. I feel like this will transfer to the stage very well and can only benefit our show!” Lindsey calls Hallie – her Schwartzy counterpart – “an extremely talented and gifted young lady! Although she and I play the same character, we have some different character choices and that is fun to see her develop as time goes on.” Lindsey currently lives in Troy and went to Grand Valley State University where she studied psychology and theatre. She works at Rochester Center for Behavioral Medicine and does psychological testing. Besides theatre, she enjoys spending time with her family, watching Netflix/Bravo/Food Network, and going to the gym.
The Farmington Players production of The 25th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee is proudly sponsored by Mall, Malisow & Cooney, PC. The show includes 12 performances (with six matinees) from December 4 – 20. Tickets are available online at farmingtonplayers.org or by contacting the Barn box office at firstname.lastname@example.org or 248-553-2955.