Menlo News November 16, 2021

US Drama Presents Inaugural Show in New Spieker Center

The Menlo Drama department performed its inaugural show in the new Spieker Center for the Arts with its production of The 25th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee.

Upper School Drama performed The 25th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee in the new Spieker Center for the Arts. Photo by Alison Leupold.

The musical kickoff to the 2021/22 Upper School drama season highlighted the year’s theme of “Word Power” with this clever musical comedy featuring an eclectic group of six middle schoolers vying for the spelling championship of a lifetime. The 2005 Broadway production, which charmed audiences across the country with its effortless wit and humor, was nominated for six Tony Awards and won two. 

Steven Minning, Director of Creative Arts and Upper School Drama, is thrilled for Menlo Drama to have returned to the stage with students performing to in-person audiences in Menlo’s new state-of-the-art Spieker Center. Spelling Bee is the inaugural show for the 380 seat auditorium, which was completed in 2020 in the heart of Menlo’s campus.

Mining shares, “The determination, patience, and resilience of our students, parents, and staff have been amazing during these times. It is rewarding and meaningful to have the opportunity to perform for a live audience again.” 

Continuing a long tradition of philanthropy, the Menlo Drama Department strives to give back both on and off stage. Menlo School’s production of The 25th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee raised funds for the Redwood City chapter of literacy program Project Read. Over the years, Menlo Drama has raised more than $50,000 for nonprofit organizations, each chosen by the cast because its work resonates with a theme in the show. Project Read was selected because, like The 25th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee, it celebrates the written word, seeing literacy as a “fuel for the fire of hope” and “the foundation for learning, opportunity, and success.”