Village Theatre Announces Cast for ‘The 25th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee’

Courtesy of Village Theatre

Village Theatre has announced the cast for the first show in their 2019-20 season. The 25th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee boasts a cast of immense talent, with Village Theatre and Seattle area favorites—including the award-winning playwright of Lizard Boy, Justin Huertas.

Spelling Bee will run at Village Theatre’s Issaquah location September 12–October 20 before playing at their Everett location October 25–November 17.

“Life is pandemonium” in this fast-paced and irreverent Tony Award-winning comedy. The 25th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee follows an eclectic group of students as they vie for the title of regional spelling bee champ—hoping never to hear the soul-crushing, pout-inducing, life un-affirming “ding” of the bell that signals a spelling mistake. This witty coming-of-age story is bursting with heart, and Village Theatre’s full-fledged production will be an unforgettable experience that chronicles all the joy, torment and passion of those who love to compete. Six spellers enter; one speller leaves! At least the losers get a juice box…


Nicholas Japaul Bernard (Mitch Mahoney) is a native of Rochester, New York and is making his Village Theatre debut. Past roles include: Hedwig and the Angry Inch (ArtsWest), Rock of Ages (The 5th Avenue Theatre), Citizen: An American Lyric (Sound Theatre Company) and Take Me Out (Strawberry Theatre Workshop). A Black, gay and disabled artist, Nicholas hopes to take up as much space in the theatre world as possible and make space for other marginalized artists.

Justin Huertas (Chip Tolentino) is an award-winning playwright, composer-lyricist and actor. He was last seen at Village Theatre in In the Heights. Acting credits include: Everybody (Strawberry Theatre Workshop), Caught (Intiman) and Tiny Beautiful Things (Seattle Rep). Justin wrote Lizard Boy and The Last World Octopus Wrestling Champion. His newest musical Lydia and the Troll premieres this spring at Seattle Rep.

Brian Lange (Vice Principal Douglas Panch) is returning to Village Theatre’s Mainstage for the first time since 2010’s The Gypsy King. Since then he’s been at Village Theatre’s First Stage for developmental productions of Cloaked, Watt?!?, The Noteworthy Life of Howard Barnes, String and ZM. Most recently Brian was in ACT/The 5th Avenue Theatre’s co-production of Urinetown, and Bright Star at Taproot Theatre.

Arika Matoba (Marcy Park) debuted on the Seattle stage as Little Red Ridinghood in Village Theatre’s Into the Woods. Additional credits include: Urinetown (ACT/The 5th Avenue Theatre), A Charlie Brown Christmas (Taproot Theatre) and AMT’s Rosie the Riveter (The 5th Avenue Theatre). Arika is represented by The Actor’s Group. @arikamatoba

Rafael Molina (Leaf Coneybear) Village Theatre credits: Hart Island, ZM, Into the Woods. Other recent credits include: West Side Story (Bay Area Theatre Company), The Miraculous Journey of Edward Tulane (Seattle Children’s Theatre) and Much Ado About Nothing (Seattle Shakespeare Company). As a composer and director, Rafael has collaborated with many local organizations and institutions. BFA Cornish College of the Arts.

Taylor Niemeyer (Olive Ostrovsky) Previous credits include: Newsies (Katherine), Xanadu (Euterpe), Big River (Mary Jane), Annie Get your Gun (Winnie Tate), Billy Elliot, Cabaret, Mary Poppins, Funny Girl and The Producers (ensemble) at Village Theatre; West Side Story (Ensemble), A Chorus Line (Bebe) and The Music Man (Zaneeta) at The 5th Avenue Theatre. @TaylorKaySymons

Sarah Russell (Logainne Schwartzandgrubenniere) is returning to Village Theatre’s stage after appearing in The Noteworthy Life of Howard Barnes, Dreamgirls and My Heart is the Drum. Additional credits include: Urinetown (ACT/The 5th Avenue Theatre), Kiss Me Kate, Grease (The 5th Avenue Theatre) and The Odyssey (Seattle Rep).

MJ Sieber (William Barfee) Recent credits include: The Crucible and Stupid Fucking Bird at ACT Theatre; Dry Powder, Outside Mullingar, Photograph 51 at Seattle Rep; Native Son at Intiman; Shakespeare in Love, Midsummer and Winter’s Tale at Seattle Shakespeare Company; and Elephant Man and Gutenburg! The Musical at Strawberry Theatre Workshop, just to name just a few. He was the associate artistic director of New Century Theatre Co. and appeared in Festen, O Lovely Glowworm, The Trial, The Adding Machine, and directed the West Coast Premiere of Annie Baker’s Pulitzer Prize winner The Flick.

Jessica Skerritt (Rona Lisa Perretti) Favorite Village Theatre credits include: String (Atropos), Singin’ in the Rain (Lina Lamont), Xanadu (Kira/Clio), The Producers (Ulla) and Million Dollar Quartet (Dyanne). The 5th Avenue Theatre: A Christmas Story (Mother), How to Succeed… (Hedy LaRue), Annie (Grace), The Sound of Music (Elsa), ELF (Deb). ACT: Little Shop of Horrors (Audrey), Grey Gardens (Young Little Edie).

Subscriptions for Village Theatre’s 2019-20 season and single tickets for The 25th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee are now available.