L-A-U-G-H with ‘Spelling Bee’

New production company runs musical as flagship show

‘The 25th Annual Putnam County

Spelling Bee’

Ghostlight Productions

Where: Sequim High School Auditorium, 533 N. Sequim Ave.

When: 7:30 p.m. July 31, Aug. 1, 7-8, 14-15; 2 p.m. Aug. 1-2, 8-9

Tickets: $10-$18, available online at www.ghostlight-productions.com; Beauty and the Beach Salon in Port Angeles;

Bank of America in Sequim; and door. (All seats on July 31 are $10)

Concessions: Available from Sequim High School Choir Boosters to support trip to Anaheim, Calif.


Sequim’s active theater community just added one more show for your summer amusement.

The Tony Award-winning musical comedy “The 25th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee” comes to the Sequim High School Auditorium for 10 shows from July 31-Aug. 15.

Actor/director Mark Lorentzen leads the show, which follows six eccentric middle school spellers vying for the spelling bee championship.

For the show, Lorentzen created a new group, Ghostlight Productions, to fulfill a long-term goal to perform one of his family’s favorites musicals.

“We had a deadline before my sister Anne (who plays Olive Ostrovsky, one of the spellers) moved to Northwestern (University),” said Lorentzen, who also plays parolee Mitch Mahoney serving his public service at the bee. “We’ve always wanted to do it. This is our flagship show. I would love to not just limit to theater but other avenues like concerts and multimedia productions.”

He recruited his sister, wife Danielle (speller Marcy Park) and mom and dad, Laura and John Lorentzen to take on acting and musical roles, and cousin Luciana Barerra (speller Logainne Shwartzandgrubbnierre).

Laura, who plays Rona Lisa Peretti, bee moderator and former champion, said this is the first time she’s performed on stage since 1982.

“I’ve been a teacher for 30 years (currently in Chimacum) and I’ve directed musicals and other shows in that time,” she said. “It’s liberating. I’m reliving my glory days.”

Peretti leads the spelling bee while fending off the affections of Vice Principal Panch (Dave McInnes).

“(The musical) is really hilarious and there are some funny, funny lines,” Laura said. “Some of the students have the funniest (word) definitions.”

Audience participation is a must for the show with four chosen at random to compete with the spellers.

Barerra, who plays the politically savvy Shwartz-andgrubbnierre, said including the audience is one of her favorite parts which helps make the musical “really silly.”

As for her character, Barerra said she’s outspoken and wants to share her opinion but always second guesses herself under the pressure to succeed from her two dads.

Rounding out the cast are Chandler Wendeborn as speller William Barfee, Eric Hermosada as speller Chip Tolentino and Mikey Cobb Jr. as speller Leaf Coneybear.

Wendeborn said his take on serious speller Barfee, pronounced Bar-fay, is exciting because it’s his first time starring in a show. Previously, he’s performed with choruses in two other musicals. Mark Lorentzen, whom he performed with in the Port Angeles Light Opera Association’s “South Pacific,” contacted him.

“(Barfee) is someone who takes spelling seriously and goes in with the drive to win,” Wendeborn said.

“He’s been in the spelling bee before and he made it far but didn’t win. He holds onto that.”

Characters’ quirks and backstories are revealed throughout the show such as with Barfee spelling with his feet, Shwartzandgrubbnierre spelling into her arm and Olive Ostrovsky and her absent parents.

“Audience members will see themselves in at least one character,” said Mark Lorentzen.

“It has an incredibly smart humor with some heartfelt moments.”


Mark Lorentzen said they’ve been rehearsing since mid-June for the show and due to limited rehearsal space, they’ve been readying in the Sequim High School’s choir room.

They also built sets off-site before moving into the high school’s auditorium last Sunday following Peninsula Family Theater’s run of “Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat.”

Most of the actors Lorentzen recruited for his first show after working with them on shows like Peninsula Family Theaters’ “Les Miserables” last summer.

“This is the polar opposite of “Les Miserables,” he said about its humor and tone.

“Spelling Bee” features an orchestra conducted by John Lorentzen on piano, John Allman on keyboards, John Melcher on cello, John Doster on percussion and Auston Spencer on reeds.

The musical was conceived by Rebecca Feldman from a book by Rachel Sheinkin with music and lyrics by William Finn. Jay Reiss also contributed.

For more on the show and tickets, visit www.ghostlight-productions.com.