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Meet The Spellers

Auckland Theatre Company

Casting Alert


Immediate Release


Meet The Spellers


Auckland Theatre Company is delighted to announce the full cast for The New Zealand Post season of THE 25TH ANNUAL PUTNAM COUNTY SPELLING BEE.

Jackie Clarke (Rona Paretti) Jackie is one of New Zealand’s best loved performers. She became a household name in New Zealand as a member of kitsch kiwi trio ‘When The Cat’s Been Spayed’ and is instantly recognisable as a judge from New Zealand Idol. Rona is a former Spelling Bee queen who is still living the glory of crown she won thirty years ago as the competition MC.

Madeleine Sami (Schwarzy) burst onto stage and then toured the world in Toa Fraser’s NO. 2 in 2002 and since then has become one of New Zealand’s most sought after actors.

Eryn Wilson (Panch) was last onstage with ATC as a liberal left wing maths teacher countering Peter Elliot’s hard talking, hard living Auckland developer. Panch, the Spell Master, hilarious and bizarre definitions of words, and examples of the words in sentences, often confound more clarify the words for each contestant.

Jason Te Patu (Mitch) is no stranger to onstage competitions having choreographed three seasons of New Zealand Idol. Jason has recently returned from Australia where he’s been performing in Miss Saigon. Jason is currently working on The World of Wearable Arts in Wellington.

Teacher Semu Filipo’s (William Barfee) spelling ought to be right on the night. After graduating from Toi Whakaari in 2006, Filipo trained as a drama teacher. Semu is a regular guest on Shortland Street and has appeared in a number of productions at BATS theatre in Wellington and Silo Theatre in Auckland. Better than Elvis’ blue suede shoes, Barfee’s magic spelling feet prove even spelling geeks can cut up the dance floor.

Esther Stephens (Marcy) first performed with ATC as an intern from Unitec for THE TWELFTH NIGHT. We have to keep a couple of seats free each night for Marcy’s parents. They live on an Ashram in India but are always present in spirit.

On stage with Auckland Theatre Company for the first time is Cameron Douglas (Chip). Cameron has starred in a number of musicals for The Court Theatre, including THE PRODUCERS, MY FAIR LADY and THE ROCKY HORROR SHOW. A hard working boy scout, Chip certainly got the badges to win.

Popular Wellington based performer and ‘beat girl’ Christina Cusiel (Olive) will also make her debut with ATC in THE 25TH ANNUAL PUTNAM COUNTY SPELLING BEE. If you thought stage mums were a handful wait to you meet Olive’s two gay spelling dads.

About the show:

A hilariously hip musical comedy, THE 25TH ANNUAL PUTNAM COUNTY SPELLING BEE features six young people in the throes of puberty, overseen by grown-ups who barely managed to escape childhood themselves, learning that winning isn't everything.

Charles Isherwood of the New York Times called THE 25TH ANNUAL PUTNAM COUNTY SPELLING BEE “irresistible and entirely lovable and riotously funny.” Terry Teachout in the Wall Street Journal called the show “the best in town - that rarity of rarities, a super-smart show that is also a bona fide crowd-pleaser.” David Rooney of Variety stated that, “this winning new musical is so generously warm-heated, only the most bitter misanthrope could resist its charms.” Michael Sommers of the Star-Ledger called it “a nifty musical gift,” and Linda Winer of Newsday deemed it “endearingly deranged.” Michael Kuchwara of the Associated Press simply asked, “How do you spell h-i-t?”



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