|Mackenzie McIlroy is the fastidious Olive Ostrovsky|
PHOTO by Jan Cartwright
Remember when you were 12 years old? You’re definitely not a child, and will scorn anyone who treats you like one, but you’re not quite ready yet to be a “grown-up.” You have a hard enough time figuring yourself out, let alone navigating the perilous and hormonally charged waters of teenagehood. The 25th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee explores those not-so-Wonderous Years from the eyes of six middle school student spellers.
In the Farmington Players production of Spelling Bee, Mackenzie McIlroy plays
Olive Ostrovsky, who struggles with being a lonely only child. Mackenzie describes Olive as a “very timid girl who has never really made any friends in life. She starts to read her dictionary due to the absence of her parents throughout her childhood.” Mackenzie is now 20, but she definitely remembers “just trying to fit in when you’re 12. Not knowing what to say to the boy next to you, or if you should go up to the cool girl in the class and say hello.” Mackenzie says her “whole life” has prepared her for Spelling Bee: “Taking certain moments Olive has and seeing myself back in school with the same issue, maybe not in the exact way, but I can relate to maybe how she is feeling. I was in a spelling bee in the 5th grade and I got out in the second round.”
Mackenzie loves playing Olive because “she is a very determined and hopeful little girl. You can tell she is upset by her parents not being at the bee, but she still has this light of hope that maybe they will show up. Later she proves to herself she can do just about anything when she believes in herself.” Like many of her cast mates, Mackenzie believes that “there is a character that every audience member can reflect on being when they were in middle school. I think they will be able to relate to the awkward middle schooler moments as well as enjoy themselves with laughter, heartbreak, and accomplishment. Also, four lucky audience members get to be in the show!”
Mackenzie plays Olive in the adult cast, and her counterpart in the youth cast is 12 year-old Maryanna Lauter. Mackenzie says, “Being paired with someone who is actually the same age as my character has really helped me to understand how 12 year olds feel now. Little things they say or do. Hearing about what happened at school and the drama of the day really takes me back to when I was in middle school and almost helps me get into character when I talk to the younger kids.” Despite her youth, “Maryanna is by far the most professional 12 year-old I have ever met. She had her lines memorized the second week of rehearsal and knew all the songs. I was really blown away with how talented she is and she keeps me on my toes every rehearsal. It was very fun getting to know her and bond over this character together. She has so much potential and I can’t want to see where it all takes her.”
Mackenzie is from Commerce Township and is a junior at Oakland University, majoring in communications. She hopes to start her career in communications in New York City or Washington DC, and to continue in theater. Her hobbies include golfing with her dad and exploring new things.
The Farmington Players production of The 25th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee is proudly sponsored by Mall, Malisow & Cooney, PC. Four audience members (including some local celebrities) will be selected as spellers at each performance. The show includes 12 performances (the three Saturday matinees feature 12-to-16 year-old spellers along with the regular adult cast.) from December 4 – 20. See the #BeeAtTheBarn, Tickets are available online at farmingtonplayers.org or by contacting the Barn box office at firstname.lastname@example.org or 248-553-2955.