Competitive spelling contests are loaded with equal shares of comedy and drama. That’s at the soul of the musical The Putnam County Spelling Bee. With music and lyrics by William Finn and a book by Rachel Sheinkin, the play gives spellers, their parents and the moderators an outlet for their personalities — like overachiever Marcy Park, who speaks six languages and plays Mozart on multiple instruments (but she also hides in a bathroom cabinet because she isn’t allowed to cry). There’s also Logainne Schwartzandgrubenierre, the politically aware speller whose last name is a composite of her two gay dads’ surnames. Audience members even get a chance to join the cast onstage as spellers. The play has been performed by a few local high schools, but Scott Spence directs the first Northeast Ohio professional production, which opens at 8 tonight with performances through April 25 at the Beck Center for the Arts (17801 Detroit Ave., Lakewood, 216.521.2540). Tickets: $10-$28. — Michael Gill
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