As the dorky William Barfee, Lyndhurst native Eric Roediger squares off with five other oddball teens in the touring production of the Broadway hit The 25th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee, which is playing on the Palace Theatre stage for a 10-day run.The premise of the James Lapine-directed musical is fairly straightforward: Line up a bunch of overachievers in a gym, lob words like "crepuscule" at them, and watch them slink off to the side after all but one kid have misspelled their way to elimination. Meanwhile, the repartee among students, teachers, and pronouncer is witty, clever, and touching all at once.The weird collection of competitors ranges from a piano-playing karate star who's skipped two grades and speaks six languages to a girl who heads her school's Gay-Straight Alliance because she has a couple of homo fathers. Roediger's character plays the pity card, since he lost last year's bee due to his allergic reaction to peanuts. But by the end of the show, the audience learns that you don't have to be a nerd to be the smartest kid in class. The curtain goes up at 7:30 p.m. Tuesdays through Fridays, 1:30 and 7:30 p.m. Saturdays, and 1 and 6:30 p.m. Sundays through Sunday, May 18, at the Palace Theatre, 1501 Euclid Avenue. Tickets are $10 to $57.50. Call 216-241-6000.
Tuesdays-Fridays, 7:30 p.m.; Saturdays, 1:30 & 7:30 p.m.; Sundays, 1 & 6:30 p.m. Starts: May 8. Continues through May 18, 2008