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Best of the Week 2022-2023: Excellence in College Prep


This fall, the Edwardian Players welcomed a new director into the spotlight, returning St. Ed's and Edwardian Players alum Tony Heffner '13. Leading the direction of this hilarious comedy, Tony is excited to be back at his alma mater and taking the lead on directing his first Edwardian Players production.

"It feels great to be home. St. Ed's is the place that sparked my love for theatre. From seeing Titanic back in 2003 to when I finally got to be in my first show as a sophomore in 'The Phantom of the Opera,'" says Tony. "I knew this was an industry that I wanted to be involved in for the rest of my life. And now I get to give back and spark a love for the arts to a new generation." Having performed as an actor in the greater Cleveland area for over a decade, Mr. Heffner has worked with many directors, including Robert Burns, Director of Theater, Choir and Orchestra, for the last three Edwardian Players productions.

Presenting "The 25th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee," winner of the Tony and Drama Desk Awards for Best Book, the Edwardian Players' fall play production features an eclectic group of six tweens who vie for the spelling championship of a lifetime. "'...Spelling Bee' is one of my favorite shows and it holds an even more special place in my heart because it's how my wife and Edwardian Players choreographer, Sarah Heffner, rediscovered our friendship and unearthed our love. We first met doing the aforementioned Phantom of the Opera, lost touch naturally as she went off to college, but then reconnected after both of us on a whim decided to audition for '...Spelling Bee' at Huntington Playhouse in Bay Village and the rest is history. To be able to work on this show again with her in this capacity is a beautiful full circle moment."

Changing things up, this Edwardian Player production of "The 25th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee" will be performed on the gym floor with the help of a new set design to make the performance more intimate with the audience. Adding to the excitement of this show is audience participation. Each performance will welcome four random audience members to the stage to participate in the Spelling Bee. "I hope the audience gets the chance to see themselves in each of the characters in this show. This is a story about individuals dealing with not fitting in, undergoing societal, familial or internal pressures, struggling to find a passion in life, and so many other emotions that every single person has dealt with at some point," says Mr. Heffner. "It has been rewarding to watch these students take the direction I give them and run with it. With how hilarious and wacky this show is, and no matter how many times I've heard the jokes, I'm still cracking up in my chair at all the individual choices they make. This show has so much room for improvisation and it's so fun to see them collaborate to bring something new and different to the table. There's something for everyone in this wacky and ridiculous, yet touching musical and I'm really excited to get to share it with the entire St. Edward community."

Performances of the Edwardian Players' Fall Play, "The 25th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee," will take place tonight and tomorrow night at 7:30 p.m. and on Sunday, November 20 at 3:00 p.m. Tickets can still be purchased in-person at the box office (cash only) 30 minutes prior to each show. Break a leg to the cast, crew, pit and new director, Mr. Tony Heffner!

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