Porchlight Players present ‘The 25th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee.’ | VailDaily.com

Porchlight Players present ‘The 25th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee.’

Once a year, a downvalley date night can include dinner and live theater.

During the weekends preceding and following Valentine's Day, the Porchlight Players Community Theater Company will present its annual dinner theater performances at the Brush Creek Pavilion. The evening includes a catered meal, adult beverages and a show. This year's presentation is a revival for the Porchlight Players — the return of "The 25th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee."

"We all loved it so much from when we did it as a Play in the Park back in 2010," said Ann Olin, director of this year's dinner theater production.

In fact, most of the group who performed the musical back in 2010 loved it so much they signed up to reprise their roles. Only three of the characters had to be recast, Olin said.

"It must have been a fun show to do if everyone was willing to do it again," she said. "It's always fun when adults get to play children."

Spelling Bee chaos

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"The 25th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee" won a Tony award in 2005 for Best Book of a Musical. The musical features the story of how six young people in the throes of puberty, overseen by a group adults who barely managed to escape childhood themselves, learn that winning isn't everything and losing does necessarily make you a loser.

The six spellers include a girl whose best friend is a dictionary, an accident-prone boy who has to wear a helmet all the time (on orders from his mom) and a spelling dynamo who wants to change the legal voting age to 10. Their back stories are further explored in the cast bios from the play. Instead of sharing their own stories, the cast decided to share their characters' stories in this year's program.

One of the signature parts of the musical is that before every performance, four audience volunteers are recruited to participate on stage as guest spellers. Each new foursome means every performance is unique.

"It is such a fun show to perform and to see," Olin said. "Everyone has memories from their own childhood. They remember a kid like the kid in the show or something that happened that was like something in the show.

"Plus, the words themselves are hilarious."

Dinner fare

The dining part of the dinner theater features a meal catered by Fork Art Catering. The meal includes pre-show appetizers and dessert. Additionally, show goers receive three drink tickets for wine, beer or soft drinks. This year, Crazy Mountain Brewing Co. is the featured beer sponsor for the event.

On the subject of sponsors, Olin noted the production is made possible through the support of Alpine Bank, the town of Eagle and Slifer Smith and Frampton Real Estate.

This year's show represents the seventh annual dinner theater production for the Porchlight Players. Olin said the group has come a long way since that first effort, which included a set of eight lights and a temporary stage constructed from wood pallets covered with carpet.

This year's performances will feature a sound and light system controlled by three computers.

"We have come a long way," said Olin.

The Saturday, Feb. 11, performance is sold out, but tickets remain for all other performances. For tickets, visit http://www.porchlightplayers.com.

If you go …

What: The Porchlight Players present “The 25th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee” for their annual Valentine’s weekend dinner theater production.

When: Friday, Feb. 10, to Sunday, Feb. 12, and Friday, Feb. 17, to Saturday, Feb. 18; doors open at 5:45 p.m., dinner at 6 p.m., show at 7 p.m.

Where: Brush Creek Pavilion, 909 Capitol St., Eagle.

Cost: $55 per person.

More information: Ticket price inlcudes catered dinner, pre-show snacks and three adult beverages. For tickets or more information, visit http://www.porchlightplayers.com.