Backstage Pass with Lia Chang

Photos: Emily Borromeo, Becca Andrews, Heslens Estevez, Patrick Halley, Billy Lowrimore, Stephen Mark, Lee Slobotkin, Lindsie VanWinkle and Matt Welsh in THE 25TH ANNUAL PUTNAM COUNTY SPELLING BEE at Astoria Performing Arts Center through May 28

The award-winning Astoria Performing Arts Center (APAC) presents THE 25TH ANNUAL PUTNAM COUNTY SPELLING BEE, with music & lyrics by William Finn, book by Rachel Sheinkin, conceived by Rebecca Feldman, additional material by Jay Reiss, choreographed by Misha Shields, music directed by Michael Ferrara, directed by Artistic Director Dev Bondarin. The limited engagement will be at Good Shepherd United Methodist Church, 30-44 Crescent St (@ 30th Rd), in Astoria, Queens. Performances began on Thursday, May 5 and continue through Saturday, May 28. Tickets are available at www.apacny.org.

Emily Borromeo. Photo by Michael Dekker.

Emily Borromeo. Photo by Michael Dekker.

Each member of a lovable, eclectic group of middle schoolers is eager to win the spelling bee. During the proceedings, led by our fearless leaders Rona and Vice Principal Panch, we meet shy Olive, returning champ Chip, distractible Leaf, overachiever Marcy, activist Logainne, and self-assured William and his “magic foot.” Through spelling and hilarious song, the struggles and dreams of the participants are revealed and explored as we root for each one. With a tuneful score and lyrics by William Finn (Falsettos, A New Brain) and a heartfelt, funny book by Rachel Sheinkin, this show leaves us laughing as we are each able to see ourselves in the characters and remember a time when we too put everything on the line to win it all.

Becca Andrews, Patrick Halley, Lindsie VanWinkle, and Matt Welsh. Photo by Michael Dekker.

Becca Andrews, Patrick Halley, Lindsie VanWinkle, and Matt Welsh. Photo by Michael Dekker.

THE 25TH ANNUAL PUTNAM COUNTY SPELLING BEE is based on Rebecca Feldman’s improvisational play C-R-E-P-U-S-C-U-L-E and was first workshopped at Barrington Stage Company in 2004. Directed by James Lapine and choreographed by Dan Knetchges, the original New York production opened in 2005 at Second Stage. The production transferred to Broadway where it ran at the Circle in the Square for almost three years winning two Tony Awards–Best Book and Best Featured Actor. Since then the show has been performed across the country and all over the world.

Billy Lowrimore, Becca Andrews, and Lindsie VanWinkle. Photo by Michael Dekker.

Billy Lowrimore, Becca Andrews, and Lindsie VanWinkle. Photo by Michael Dekker.

The production stars Becca Andrews* (Grease; St. Louis MUNY, A Chorus Line; Maltz Jupiter) as Olive Ostrovsky, Emily Borromeo* (NBC’s “The Sing Off,” NYMF’s F***ing Hipsters) as Marcy Park, Heslens Estevez (Spring Awakening; Colony Theater-Miami) as Logainne Schwartzandgrubenierre, Patrick Halley* (The Misanthrope; The Pearl Theatre, Good People; Cleveland Playhouse) as William Barfee, Billy Lowrimore (Brother Brother; Abrams Art Center) as Mitch Mahoney, Stephen Mark (NYMF’s The Calico Buffalo, National Tour of Anything Goes) as Chip Tolentino, Lee Slobotkin* (National Tour of Wicked) as Leaf Conybear, Lindsie VanWinkle* (Nevermore; Off B’way @ New World Stages, National Tour of White Christmas) as Rona Lisa Peretti, and Matt Welsh* (APAC’s Merrily We Roll Along, The Full Monty; Human Race Theater) as Vice Principal Douglas Panch. *Performing courtesy of Actors’ Equity Association. AEA approved Showcase.

“Sunny Side Up” on Sprout, starring Emily Borromeo, Carly Ciarrocchi, Kaitlin Becker and Tim Kubart, Receives Daytime Emmy Nod for Best Pre-School Children’s Series 

The production features scenic design by Tim McMath (B’way’s Fun Home (Associate), Magic Trick (Caps Lock Theatre), costume design by Jennifer Jacob (B’way’s She Loves Me (Assistant), APAC’s Merrily We Roll Along), and lighting design by Adam Honoré (Dancing With the Movies (National Tour). Arielle Edwards (APAC’s Merrily We Roll Along)is the sound designer, Kaye Blankenship is the props designer and Nicole Richards is the production stage manager.

THE 25TH ANNUAL PUTNAM COUNTY SPELLING BEE plays the following schedule: Thursday at 8pm, Friday at 8pm, and Saturday at 2pm and 8pm. Tickets are $18 and are now available online at www.apacny.org. Tickets may also be purchased in person at the box office ½ hour prior to performance. Running Time: 2 hours, with one intermission.

Emily Borromeo, Patrick Halley, Stephen Mark, Becca Andrews, Heslens Estevez, and Lee Slobotkin. Photo by Michael Dekker.

Emily Borromeo, Patrick Halley, Stephen Mark, Becca Andrews, Heslens Estevez, and Lee Slobotkin. Photo by Michael Dekker.

From L to R: Top: Matt Welsh, Emily Borromeo, Patrick Halley, Billy Lowrimore, and Lindsie VanWinkle. Bottom: Heslens Estevez, Lee Slobotkin, Becca Andrews, and Stephen Mark. Photo by MIchael Dekker.

From L to R: Top: Matt Welsh, Emily Borromeo, Patrick Halley, Billy Lowrimore, and Lindsie VanWinkle. Bottom: Heslens Estevez, Lee Slobotkin, Becca Andrews, and Stephen Mark. Photo by MIchael Dekker.

Full Company. Photo by Michael Dekker.

Full Company. Photo by Michael Dekker.

Click here for the Lia Chang Articles Archive and here for the Lia Chang Photography Website.

Lia Chang. Photo by Garth Kravits

Lia Chang. Photo by Garth Kravits

Lia Chang is an actor, a multi-media content producer and co-founder of Bev’s Girl Films, making films that foster inclusion and diversity on both sides of the camera. Bev’s Girl Films’ debut short film, Hide and Seek was a top ten film in the Asian American Film Lab’s 2015 72 Hour Shootout Filmmaking Competition, and she received a Best Actress nomination. BGF collaborates with and produces multi-media content for artists, actors, designers, theatrical productions, composers,  musicians and corporations. Lia is also an internationally published and exhibited photographer, a multi-platform journalist, and a publicist. Lia has appeared in the films Wolf, New Jack City, A Kiss Before Dying, King of New York, Big Trouble in Little China, The Last Dragon, Taxman and Hide and Seek. She is profiled in Examiner.comJade Magazine and Playbill.com.

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