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Saturday, March 21, 2009

Leah Aquino Beat Lea Salonga Over a Spelling Bout!

It was more of a last-minute thing (I skipped a drinking bout because of this). Leah, Chelle and I caught the first night of “The 25th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee”. It’s a Tony award-winning musical that is being locally staged by the undisputed (for the lack of word) Atlantis Productions at RCBC Plaza's Carlos P. Romulo Auditorium. I have to note that the musical was conceived by a certain Rebecca Feldman. It was amazing to realize that some people can conceptualize a musical material out of events like a spelling bee. On this regard, can we have a musical about Java programming and about the people trying to fit in the MRT during rush hours?

Briefly, I have to note, too, that I enjoyed Bobby Garcia’s direction on this improvisation-like little show. This time, his skills are not overcome by big names, gigantic props and the material’s reputation. I can’t say anything about the music or the singing. On acting department, everybody’s a revelation but Thea Tadiar’s Marcy Park has the finest sting.

The best part of the experience, of course, was Leah’s participation as a guest speller. FYI, each show has two guest spellers from the crowd and two celebrity spellers (ours had THE Lea Salonga and Jett Pangan, no less). After 10 minutes of the run, the hosts called the spellers from the crowd and they were seated beside the singing cast.

First round was a set of easy words (well, for guest spellers only). I remember Jett Pangan being given the word “idea” and the host used it in a sentence using the lyrics of The Dawn’s “Enveloped Ideas”. Lea Salonga had “dog” and Leah Aquino had “bingo” which the host defined while humming the tune “b-i-n-g-o”.

Before proceeding to another round, there were some musical numbers. One song even involved the guest spellers in a series of choreography. Chelle and I enjoyed this part. Imagine Leah sharing the stage with Lea Salonga.

For the more difficult round, the other non-celebrity speller was the first to bid goodbye then Jett Pangan (which was given a mind-bending Indian-American word). Leah spelled the word “nantle” correctly. As for Lea Salonga, she was given a really difficult one. I forgot the word but it has a “greacum” at the end. Lea spelled it as “greekum” and she had to say goodbye. Leah, on the other hand, was asked to spell “caterjunes” which she didn’t miss. To force Leah to be eliminated, she was given a word with five to six syllables, something that no human being can spell correctly. As a consolation, one of the actors sang another number that required Leah to enjoy more screen time, complete with her name’s inclusion in the lyrics.

I Googled later that there are no such words as “nantle” and “caterjunes”. Wikipedia explained that the show used it to somewhat control the flow of the play. Well, I hope Leah is not reading this. Judging by the way people in the elevator recognized her, she had fun as much as we did.

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