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Arts & Culture
West Orange Times & Observer Thursday, Feb. 2, 2017 5 years ago

Cast of “The 25th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee” share their most embarrassing middle-school stories

"The 25th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee" will run from Feb. 3-26 at the Garden Theatre
by: Brittany Gaines Reporter

WINTER GARDEN For the cast of “The 25th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee,” their roles playing tweens are a trip down memory lane to their time in middle school - when everyone suffered from puberty and questionable fashion sense.

“All the characters are so relatable, because everyone has gone through adolescence,” said actor Ricky Cona.

And all the actors are adults playing tweens, which only adds to the comedy of the show.

“It takes a lot of energy to play such goofy characters,” said Kit Cleto. “But it’s honestly a lot of fun.”

The show, which runs from February 3-26 at the Garden Theatre, follows the story of six middle-schoolers as they compete in the county spelling bee and all the woes and drama that comes with it. 

“It takes you back to that time when we all felt that way,” said director Kenny Howard.

But the actors all have their own memories of high school - including some very embarrassing moments.


Paige Gober

Like many other seventh graders, Gober had a major crush.

“I was deeply in love with one of the popular, cute, athletic guys in school,” she said.

But her secret didn’t stay secret for very long. On Valentine’s Day, everyone was buzzing with excitement as candy grams were delivered throughout the day. What Gober didn’t know was that her best friend had order a candy gram to be delivered to that secret crush. The label said, “From Paige.” It was delivered to the classroom with everyone watching. Gober was mortified.

“I suffered many years of embarrassment from that,” she said.


Savannah Simerly

In middle school, Simerly was a cheerleader. But there’s one incident she will never forget.

It was during a basketball game. The cheerleaders were performing their routine, and Simerly prepared to do her tumbling pass across the gym floor. It wasn’t until after she finished her flips that she realized her mistake.

“I forgot to put my bloomers on,” she said.

So everyone had seen her underwear.


Ricky Cona

Cona was the new kid in school and forgot to bring his permission slip for the upcoming 6th-grade field trip to Universal Orlando.

“(My teacher) reamed me out in from of the class and refused to let me go,” he said.

As if he wasn’t embarrassed enough, when Cona’s mother, who was also a teacher, heard about the incident, she stormed into the classroom to have words with Cona’s teacher.

“I could hear them arguing about it,” he said.

Even though his teacher changed her stance, Cona’s mother still kept him home on the day of the field trip.

“My mom said that she wasn’t going to let me go with that lady,” he said.


Kayla Alvarez

Alvarez still hasn’t forgotten her middle-school ketchup incident.

She was walking out of the library, head held high because she was rocking a pair of white pants and her crush was nearby. What she didn’t notice was the small ketchup packet in the middle of the floor.

“I stepped right on the ketchup packet and slipped right on my beautiful white pants with everyone looking at me,” Alvarez said.

She had to endure the rest of the day with a giant, red ketchup stain on her backside.


Kit Cleto

In eighth grade, Cleto had a girlfriend. They had been going for almost three month - a lifetime in middle-school years. They bonded over their love of the TV show “Charmed,” he said.

But it came to a dramatic end during a choir competition. While waiting in a holding room for the competition to start, three of his girlfriend’s friends approached him.

“They told me, ‘She needs to talk to you. You haven’t called her in a week, so you’re not going out anymore,’” Cleto said. “(My girlfriend) just stood there staring lasers at me.”

Everyone in the choir watched the exchange.

“It was like TMZ for a month,” Cleto said.


Contact Brittany Gaines at [email protected].

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