HORTONVILLE, Wis. (WFRV) – As Outagamie County high school students prepare to hit the stage in a few days, they can’t help but feel grateful.

“To be in person with all the people you love and meeting new people is just so fun and an experience that’s indescribable almost,” says senior Jena Plutz.

Hortonville High School is performing the musical The 25th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee.

The play follows six “awkward” students at Putnam Valley Middle School who are competing in the bee, which is run by three eccentric adults.

“Everybody is a lead in their own light. We have Speller 1, 2, and 3, but even they get to come up and have their own time in the spotlight,” says junior Josie Kasuboski, the production’s stage manager.

“It’s a really fun show where everyone gets to explore their character in such interesting and different ways,” says Plutz.

Plutz is playing, Logainne SchwartzandGrubenierre, the spelling bee’s youngest participant.

“She is a very outspoken ten-year-old. She won’t hesitate to tell you her beliefs and make you feel the same,” says Plutz.

“We really see a lot about their home life and their journey through the spelling bee and how it transforms them as people,” says Justin Foth, the show’s director.

Hortonville High School is doing something different this year, because of COVID-19. There will be two casts performing the play in an effort to practice social distancing.

“We typically have 60 people on stage and 60 people behind stage. But with covid, there’s no way to do that safely. So this show only requires 12 people on stage at a time,” says Foth.

There were several new things students had to adjust to while working on the play, from acting and singing while wearing masks to having the musical’s instrumentalists play from another room. Despite the unique circumstances this year, the cast and crew are excited to be performing together again.

“It forces a sense of community. Last year, when we all had to go home, we lost so much of that community. Having that community back and being able to support each other and provide everything that we need is really important to have those connections and keep them strong,” says Kasuboski.

The 25th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee will run April 15-18. For more information on Hortonville High School’s production of The 25th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee, click here.