Although they've spent plenty of time rehearsing, Hilton Head Preparatory School students don't know how their upcoming production of "The 25th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee" will play out.
The musical is an improv exercise for the actors, who work with four surprise audience members each show.
The comedy centers on a group of middle school students competing in a spelling bee in Putnam County, N.Y. Audience members participate in an actual spelling bee with cast members.
"Normally, as a director, you don't want your show to vary at all," Hilton Head Preparatory School director of performing arts Ben Wolfe said. "You stick to the chorus. You do the exact same thing every night. But with this, you have to be loose and give the cast the freedom to improvise and make choices on the fly."
Wolfe said the show was written in 2005. He described it as a big title with big heart.
He said all of the actors are members of Hilton Head Preparatory's upper school, and almost everyone has played a lead in previous productions.
Wolfe said rehearsals have been a lot of fun. Various people have volunteered as guest spellers to help the cast members practice their improvisation skills.
"It keeps it fresh and exciting because you really never know what's going to happen," Wolfe said. "It's a hysterical little exercise, and it helps them because they're sharpening their improv skills. ... We can't wait to get the real audience members up there."