When considering options for an evening on the town, adolescent spelling bees don't generally spring to mind. It's a shame that they're so overlooked, however, since such events tend to be pressure cookers in which academic esteem, parental love, and emotional validation hinge on the correct spelling of cruelly archaic words. Satirizing this disproportionate pressure over purpose, The 25th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee boasts an anarchic spirit eager to break the conventions of both the titular event and theater itself. Conceived by Rebecca Feldman, the show is set up like an actual spelling bee wherein the contestants are individually introduced before being tasked with spelling an array of increasingly abstruse words. Unlike a standard spelling bee, however, this particular contest features madcap dialogue, pronunciation quips, and audience banter courtesy of Rachel Sheinin and Jay Reiss. Complementing the humor is a set of musical numbers by William Finn, including such absurdly memorable titles as "My Friend, the Dictionary" and "My Unfortunate Erection." Directed by Joe Chvala, the energetic force behind Flying Foot Forum, this latest production from Bloomington Civic Theatre is geared to leave all audiences, whether they can spell "cachinnate" or not, breathless with laughter.
Thursdays-Saturdays, 7:30 p.m.; Sundays, 2 p.m.; Wednesdays, 7:30 p.m. Starts: Jan. 17. Continues through Feb. 16, 2014