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“The 25th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee” opens September 9. Are you ready?


The cast is ready. The crew is ready. The costumes and props are in place. The musicians are in tune. We’re waiting for opening night Friday, September 9 for “The 25th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee.” And you’ve got to be there.

Here’s why you need to get your tickets now. The show runs three weekends from September 9 through September 25.

For starters, this is one funny, uplifting show. A celebration of the high-stakes world of school spelling bees, this hit musical comedy centers on six overachieving wordsmiths bent on winning a hard-fought contest and sharing their pubescent awkwardness and angst along the way.

Hilarious songs capture early teenage troubles at their worst, from “Woe Is Me” to “My Unfortunate Erection (Chip’s Lament).” The original off-Broadway production won three Drama Desk Awards for Outstanding Ensemble Performance, Outstanding Director of a Musical, and Outstanding Book of a Musical. The original Broadway production was nominated for six Tonys and took home two.

Need to know more? The AFD cast is irrepressibly wonderful. The energy on the stage is palpable. The talent runs into the aisle. The high energy will transmit to you and make you want to be a part of the show.

And in this show, you could be onstage. Part of the fun is that audience members are invited to compete in the onstage spelling bee.

You’ll get to see a celebrity speller at every performance. Opening night on September 9, Arlington Selectwoman Diane Mahon will take the stage.

One more hint: Get your tickets soon because we expect seats to go fast. Word’s gotten out about the celeb spellers and the set, which the tech crew built with salvaged pieces from the under-demolition Stratton School in Arlington.

You’re going to have a ton of fun at “Spelling Bee.” In the meantime, enjoy some photos and help us spread the word. Visit AFD on Facebook for daily updates.

See you at the show!




What’s the Cast of “Spelling Bee” Doing Tonight?

Other than rehearsing, that is! As they’ve been doing all summer to bring you a spectacular show that opens on September 9.

Well, tonight Leslie Maiocco is taking headshots for the lobby board. And then director Justin McCoubry and music director John Eldridge are leading the cast in rehearsal. And stage manager Robin D. Liberty will be keeping everyone on track and organized.

Putting on a show at AFD Theatre takes a lot of people and a lot of time. Cast members are practicing their choreography (Justin is doubling as choreographer and director). Producer Judy Weinberg is locating celebrity spellers from the Arlington area who’ll join the cast in every performance.

Doug Cooper and Mark Bastoni are set designing and set building, respectively. Carol Antos is designing and creating costumes, Iain Bason is on lighting design, Bob Pascucci is working his magic with sound, and Evelyn Corsini Alcorn is finding, gathering, and creating props.

In the background, board members and volunteers are working on ticket sales, programs, posters, lobby displays, opening night receptions. The crew works through an endless list of “to dos” right up until opening night.

People who do community theater do it because they love it. And the cast and crew of “The 25th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee” are putting on this show for YOU.

So what can you do? In the words of Tallulah Bankhead, If you really want to help the American theater, don’t be an actress, dahling. Be an audience.

When you become an audience at AFD Theatre’s production of “The 25th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee,” you will:

  • marvel at the talent of the cast
  • appreciate the great direction, choreography, and musical direction
  • admire the set and costumes
  • identify with the characters’ challenges, wins, and losses

Last but not least, you will laugh and love everyone in the show.

Theatre celebrates life and love, and that’s something we all need right now and always.

In case we haven’t spelled it out for you, tickets are on sale now. Reserve your seats today!

8 Reasons Why You Should Be Talking About AFD’s New Art Gallery

Arlington Friends of the Drama is launching an initiative to turn its lobby space into an art gallery—and here are 7 reasons why we want you to feel excited from head to toe about this news.

Chorus line line

Hats off to artists! We want to display your work in our lobby! (A Chorus Line, 2015)

  1. It’s the newest thing to happen to our lobby since—well, forever! We love our spacious lobby and we love it even more when it’s packed with post-show audience members showering cast members with congrats, hugs, and flowers. Now, whether quiet or filled with noisy, happy showgoers, the lobby will wear a new look.
  2. Art will be available for sale.
  3. We know how essential it is to support artists. That’s why 85 percent of sales will go to the artists. AFD will retain 15 percent to help defray costs.
  4. Supporting the arts in our community is important, too. AFD will give preference to local and/or area artists. We want to support your work!
  5. We will hang four shows per season to generally coincide with our four productions.
  6. Each show will be exhibited for about four weeks.
  7. AFD’s first show of the season is the hilarious and touching comedy The 25th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee. We’d like to hang this first exhibit before Bee opens on September 9.
  8. Drum roll, please! We’re currently calling for artists to submit their work. The deadline for the September show is August 18. Artists should send images of their work and a brief artist’s statement to AFD board member Joe Stallone at

Now that you’ve heard all 8 reasons, help us spread the word! Share this post with friends, family, colleagues, and fellow artists. 

Our subsequent productions open in November 2016, March 2017, and May 2017. So there’s lots of opportunity to get your art on our walls.

Once again, send your submissions to Joe Stallone at by August 18. Get on our walls!


Here’s what our lobby looks like. For last season’s hit production of The Boy From Oz, AFD House Director Mark Bastoni created a wonderful display of Peter Allan photos on the back wall.