W-C students rehearse a scene from The 25th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee. Photo by Paul Hogue

With a Wheatland-Chili graduate taking the reins as artistic director this year, the Wheatland-Chili Middle/High School Drama Club brings The 25th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee to the Middle/High School Auditorium on March 17 and March 18.

Paul Hogue, who joined the faculty this school year as a science teacher, became the Drama Club’s director as he took over from Jason Ford, who resigned after the 2021-2022 school year. Hogue is a Wheatland-Chili Class of 2011 graduate.

“I was in the spring musical all four years of high school and was in the ensemble as an eighth-grader as well,” Hogue said during a phone interview last week.

In the cast of The 25th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee are River Brandes, Ella Chitaphong, Audrey Cullum, Ella Cullum, Kira DeBruyne, Elizabeth Fugle, Grace Gocher, Ashley Gottorff, Madison Gushue, Bella Hall, William Hitchings, Priscilla Kiptoo, John Lewis, Dreya Miranda, Katalina Monnat, Ava Pizarro, Isami Rattray, Robert Schneider, Madeline Russell, Katie Smith, Paige Vandervoort, Claire VanKuren and Colden Young.

There are also 10 students working on backstage crews and three students in the pit orchestra.

Hogue and the other directors chose The 25th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee for a couple of reasons.

“The nice thing about this show is that it is a smaller show,” Hogue said. “For a first-time director, we thought it would be effective and with a small school, we thought it would be good for the students. It is one set, so that was important as well.”

W-C’s students started “Tech Week” early this week.

“The kids are doing really well with the show and we started putting things together this week in preparation for tech week,” Hogue said. “It was the same thing when I was in high school here at Wheatland-Chili; it all starts coming together the final week when you put all the pieces together.”

There was a “teaser” performance for the district’s elementary school kids on Tuesday, March 14 and a reception and performance for senior citizens on Thursday, March 16 which is the final dress rehearsal. Performances are Friday, March 17 at 7 p.m. and Saturday, March 18, at 7 p.m. Tickets are $10 and can be purchased at wheatland.k12.ny.us/tickets or at the door.

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