Photo Coverage Exclusive: Nutley Little Theatre's THE 25TH ANNUAL PUTNAM COUNTY SPELLING BEE -

by Oliver Oliveros,

Who would have thought that Nutley Little Theatre (NLT), a community theater group, could hold workshops and productions inside an old red barn since the mid-1930s?

NLT's red barn, which is nestled in the heart of Nutley in North NJ, saw the theater company's humble beginnings as a parish-based arts ministry in 1934 and its first regular season plays directed by Robert Winternitz in 1934 to1935. That same iconic red barn also serves as the performance venue in NLT's current season --76 seasons and counting -- that closes with William Finn and Rachel Sheinkin's Broadway musical The 25th Annual Putman County Spelling Bee from June 10 to June 25.

NLT's Spelling Bee director Danielle Jacob and its cast, headed by former Repertory Philippines actor John Villa (Douglas Panch), had recently invited for an exclusive peek into their community theater production of the Tony Award-winning musical.

Its charming, quirky and delightful main characters -- six geeky kids approaching puberty played by adult actors pretending to be precocious youngsters -- were bubbly and spontaneous especially with the participation of at least three guest spellers from the audience during Act 1.

Apart from Villa, NLT's Spelling Bee also features Maria Aromondo (Marcy Park), Gira Derise (Logainne Schwartzandgrubeniere), Mollie Gash (Olive Ostrovsky), Jorge Gonzalez, Jr. (Leaf Coneybear, Carl Dad), Zach Mazouat (Chip Tolentino), John Poff (William Barfee), Jessica Sporn (Rona Lisa Peretti) and Alan Van Antwerp (Mich Mahoney, Dan Dad).

Marsha Schreier is musical director. Jill Babicz is stage manager.

NLT stages its productions at the NLT Barn, 47 Erie Place, Nutley, located off Brookfield Avenue (one block east of Franklin Avenue). For tickets and more information, visit or like NLT on Facebook.

For more photos, click HERE.

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