When the curtain lifts tonight on Boston University On Broadway’s performance of “The 25th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee,” audience members will see a musical full of singing, dancing, and comedy.
What they won’t see is all the time that it seems went in to the shows production.
When quantifying how much time might be put into “Spelling Bee” at the beginning of the rehearsal process as compared to the end, Michael Butvinich estimated that the last three weeks leading up to the show would have 25 to 30 hours of rehearsal time per week.
Though he said he was speaking for himself at the beginning of his answer, it appears the end-of-production process blitz applies to many of the people involved in the show, not just Butvinich.
The time commitment required of individual “Spelling Bee” members seems to depend on their roles in the show, though. It seems the more mainstream one’s role is, the more rehearsal time is required, particularly towards the beginning of the practices.
For instance, since he didn’t have too many lines he had to memorize, and doesn’t have a great number of what he called “physical actions” to complete during the show, Butvinich said he didn’t have to rehearse too much when the play production began. He estimated his weekly rehearsal time went from five hours per week at the start of play practices, to ten to fifteen hours per week in the middle of the production process.
By contrast, Stacey Yesenosky said that as director, she’s required to attend every single rehearsal, regardless of which actors are supposed to show up.
“I would say that for every hour spent here at rehearsal I’m probably spending an hour at home doing simultaneous things,” she said when asked about the time and energy her role as a director eats up. She also mentioned that the night before the interview she’d been “up until three in themorning making a sock puppet,” that Leaf Coneybear, one of the characters in the musical, wears during parts of the play.
Asked if it was accurate to describe the experience of play production as grueling, Butvinich said, “Sometimes, and sometimes it’s not all fun. But when you’re really doing something that you love, when you’re putting on these great shows, when you’re playing these funny, interesting, kind of even almost deep characters, it’s not as much work as it is an extracurricular…something that you want to do for furn, something that you really enjoy. So while it is at times grueling, it’s also really entertaining and enjoyable.
Georgia Ladd, who plays the role of Rona Lisa Peretti in “Spelling Bee,” seemed to echo the sentiment that the play is a large commitment in terms of time, but worth the effort. “So for me personally it’s been a significant time commitment, but as I said earlier, I love doing it, it’s one of my favorite things to do, so I don’t mind.”
Another challenge of those involved with the play seems to be the balance of participating in the musical weighed against other life activities.
Fernando Limbo, who plays William Barfee in “Spelling Bee,” says that he’s got lots of other things onhis plate in addition to the musical. He said he’s “leading two different organizations as well, on top of this…,” and works as a resident assistant.
Limbo also said he’s “a second semester senior trying to still figure out a job. And then trying to juggle…a graduate course on top of my schoolwork. And papers.”
Ladd says she’s on the executive board of the Shaw Student Government. Butvinich is a member of that board as well, according to Ladd, and says he’s also taking 20 class credits along with serving as brotherhood chairman for his fraternity.
“He also writes articles for the Daily Free Press, I believe, and is involved in a whole variety of other sorts of activities that seem to pop up,” Ladd says of Butvinich’s extracurriculars.
“I’m incredibly busy,” Butvinich said. “Obviously school comes first, so you make sure you get your homework done, and like we discussed a little bit already, time management is key. I have my calendar, and it if that calendar was lost, I think I would just go cry in the corner, because it’s crucially important that I know where I need to be, when I need to be there, and what needs to be done, so that I’m prepared to um…kind of fulfill the obligations for each organization, each commitment.”
And Yesenosky, too, is involved in activities outside of “Spelling Bee,” according to Limbo. He believes she’s enrolled in five classes and said she “works as a nanny,” though she didn’t discuss any of her other activities herself.
Yesenosky was never asked about her own activities outside “Spelling Bee,” which could be the explanation for why she didn’t bring it up.
Or maybe she’s just so busy she forgot to mention it.