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PLVCT's 'Spelling Bee' has heart, laughs

PLVCT's 'Spelling Bee' has heart, laughs

The Papillion La Vista Community Theatre kicks off its 15th season of outdoor summer productions on July 16 with “The 25th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee” at the SumTur Amphitheater in Papillion.

The musical comedy follows six adolescents finding joy, heartache and purpose in competing in the Putnam Valley Middle School Spelling Bee. Contestants spell their way through a series of words while candidly disclosing hilarious and touching stories from their home lives.

For each performance, four audience members are chosen to come onstage and compete in the spelling bee along with the cast. On Broadway, the show received a Tony Award and a Drama Desk Award.

“At its core, ‘Spelling Bee’ is about figuring out where we fit in,” said Suzanne Withem, the show’s director. “Connections and communities — quirky though they may be — are central themes of the show and our community right now. As we emerge from the isolation of the last year, just like these kids, we are relearning how we fit together.”

“The 25th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee” marks PLVCT’s return to the stage following the COVID-19 cancellation of live, onstage productions in 2020.

“Last season looked very different for PLVCT,” said Emily Tonniges, board president.

“We continued providing theatre, but like other theaters, we did so through digital performances in our Encore Fest. We are so grateful for everyone’s ongoing support last year, and we’re so excited to return to sharing the live performances the community has come to love over the years.”

The PLVCT production of “The 25th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee” will be performed at 8 p.m. on July 16 through July 18 and July 22 through July 24 at the SumTur Amphitheater, 11691 S 108th St. in Papillion. Tickets start at $10 and can be purchased online now at, or at the SumTur box office Monday through Friday from 1 p.m. to 5 p.m.

The SumTur Amphitheater offers reserved stadium seating as well as green seating. Attendees viewing the play from the green are encouraged to arrive early with blankets and lawn chairs. Onsite concessions will be available, but limited to beer, wine, water, soft drinks and popcorn due to current COVID-19 safety precautions. Guests may bring their own food and beverages to enjoy during the show, with the exception of alcohol.

Additional information about “The 25th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee” or PLVCT membership opportunities can be found at or by emailing

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