Casting Announced For “Spelling Bee” At Paper Mill Playhouse

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MILLBURN – New York stage veterans Ephie Aardema and Will Blum will lead the cast of the Paper Mill Playhouse’s next show, “The 25th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee.”

Directed by Marc Bruni, with choreography by Wendy Seyb, “The 25th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee” will run at the Millburn theatre from Jan. 19 through Feb. 13, with tickets priced between $25-$92. During the show’s first week, children’s tickets will be half price (certain restrictions apply.) The show is recommended for patrons 13 years and older.


The Broadway production of “The 25th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee” was nominated for six Tony awards and won two, including Best Book of a Musical. It is the story of six quirky competitors and three oddball adults in search of spelling bee glory.

The cast includes Aardema (Logainne), who performed as Liesl in the national tour of The Sound of Music and as Olive in the Media Theatre production of Spelling Bee. She has appeared Off-Broadway in the title role of Dear Edwina and regionally at Circle in the Square, Goodspeed Opera House and Orlando Repertory Theatre.

Blum (Barfee) appeared in the Broadway and national tour productions of Grease. He has starred in several productions at Center for the Arts on Main and Roxy Regional Theatre as well as at The Boston Conservatory where he earned his BFA in Musical Theatre.

Lyle Mackston (Leaf) appeared at New York Music Festival and in the musical revue Rated RSO at Joe’s Pub. Currently pursuing a BFA at Pace University, he has starred in Fiddler on the Roof, My Favorite Year, Parade and All Shook Up.

Marla Mindelle (Rona) appeared on Broadway in the Lincoln Center Theatre production of South Pacific and in the national tour of The Drowsy Chaperone. She has performed in New York at Playwrights Horizon, National Alliance and Manhattan Theatre Club, and regionally at New Repertory Theatre, New York Stage & Film, and Princeton Opera.

Olivia Oguma (Marcy) has appeared on Broadway in Mamma Mia, Les Miserables and A Christmas Carol, as well as in the national tour of Disney High School Musical. Off-Broadway she performed at Playwrights Horizon and the Lucille Lortel Theatre. A series regular on Sesame Street, she has had a recurring role on As The World Turns and guest stars on Law & Order and All My Children.

Jerold E. Solomon (Mitch) performed in South Pacific at Lincoln Center Theatre and in the national tours of Big River, Annie and Ragtime. He appeared in several productions at Berkshire Theatre Festival, New York Music Festival, and Ensemble Studio Theatre.

Ali Stroker (Olive) has starred in several productions at New Players Company and Surflight Theatre. She has appeared at Playwrights Horizon and American Theatre of Actors as well as on the national tour of The Kids for Kids Project.

David Volin (Panch) appeared in the Walnut Street Theatre production of The Odd Couple. Regionally he has performed with New Jersey Repertory Company in The Women of Lockerbie, Klonsky & Schwartz, and The Laramie Project, Arkansas Repertory Theatre in Frost/Nixon, and Gloucester Stage in Enigma Variations.

Brandon Yanez (Chip) has been featured at Allegro Productions, including leading roles in Grease, Oliver, West Side Story, and The Sound of Music, and in several cabaret performances of Don’t Tell Mama. He has appeared in the touring company productions of Romeo and Juliet and Taming of the Shrew.

“We are thrilled to welcome a superb cast to Paper Mill Playhouse,” said Producing Artistic Director Mark S. Hoebee. “This clever, heartwarming musical demonstrates that it can be cool to be smart. This production is sure to entertain people of all ages with hilarious antics and a magnificent score.”

In conjunction with “The 25th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee,” Paper Mill Playhouse will offer a series of free audience enrichment activities including: The Director’s Viewpoint on Jan. 19 at 6:30pm, Conversation Club, every Thursday evening at 6:30pm and Q & A With the Cast on Feb. 12 following the matinee. Visit for more details on Paper Mill Playhouse’s Free Audience Enrichment Activities.

Tickets may be purchased by calling 1-973-376-4343, or at the Paper Mill Box Office on Brookside Drive in Millburn, or online at Paper Mill Playhouse’s website:

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