Trivia / The 25th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee
Cut Song: "Why We Like Spelling" shows up on the cast album but generally isn't present in performances.
Dawson Casting: The adult actors play characters who are in elementary or middle school.
Harpo Does Something Funny: A few segments can be improvised, though often there are default lines that performers can fall back on. In particular, Panch is often played by an improvisational comic and is given a fair amount of leniency with how he deals with the spellers from the audience.
Leaf was originally played by the redheaded Jesse Tyler Ferguson; most productions cast a red-headed actor in the role.
The heavyset Dan Folger originated the role of William Barfée, and as such, the character tends to be played by a larger actor (though it's also possible to go in the other direction and make him stick-thin).
Mitch Mahoney was first played by Derrick Baskin, who is African-American; the role usually goes to someone of that descent (though it's not specified in the script).
Special Guest: When celebrities dropped by the show during its initial New York run, they were chosen as guest spellers, and Actor Allusion abounded:
The winner of the Scripps National Spelling Bee was called up, and proceeded to spell fourteen extremely difficult words correctly (all in a row!) until she was finally stumped.
During the Tony Award broadcast, Reverend Al Sharpton appeared as the guest speller; he was given the word "dengue" and got it wrong, which allowed the cast to sing "Prayer of the Comfort Counselor." Rona Lisa commented that Sharpton was going to run for class president "on a platform of racial equality and macaroni and cheese."
The Original Broadway Cast Leaf, Jesse Tyler Ferguson, is also Mitchell from Modern Family.
Listen to "Woe is Me" on the original cast album. Since Leaf's actor doubles as one of Logan's dads, feel free to imagine the scene as Mitchell and Lily in about 5-6 years.
There's a secret about most productions (spoilered here to prevent people who haven't seen the show having the surprise ruined): one of the audience spellers will be given the word "catterjeune," which is defined as "an old Nantucket whaling term." After the audience member spells it, the actor playing Vice-Principal Panch breaks character and expresses amazement, and the other actors do the same, whispering to each other and appearing stunned. It's all a fake: the word "catterjeune" doesn't exist. Any spelling (except from someone who clearly knows the joke and adds completely random letters) will be deemed correct, and the apparent "shock" is a case of the actors deliberately Corpsing.