When the Northern State University Department of Theatre's production of The 25th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee opens Wednesday night at the Johnson Fine Arts Center it will be the last time three students, who have been key in productions for years, will take part as NSU students.
Ryan Puffer of Aberdeen, Seth Honerman of Sioux Falls and Kelsey Leddy of Watertown will graduate in May and leave behind a legacy that encompasses years of performance, set design, directing, stage managing and countless other tasks that have enhanced their time at Northern State.
Director of Theatre Daniel Yurgaitis notes, Seth, Kelsey and Ryan have added immeasurably to the success of NSU productions over the past years and they will be sorely missed by faculty and audiences alike.
Puffer is an English major and theater minor and has been a mainstay of the theater department. I have been involved in every theater production at NSU since fall 2007 in different capacities including acting, directing, stage managing, assistant directing, running crew and costume designing, he said.
Puffer has appeared in a variety of roles - everything from the Rabbi in Fiddler on the Roof to a stone in Eurydice and a number of different roles in The Three Musketeers. Yurgaitis says his talent with costuming and acting was evident in last fall's The Drowsy Chaperone, his favorite role. I have more experience with bigger, flashier musicals compared to the ones we had done at Northern, so it was fun to be able to be part of a big fun ridiculous show, he said. The role also let me demonstrate some of my comedic skills as well as work alongside by best friend in theater, Mary Keahey.
He was also in this winter's Shakespeare comedy, Love's Labour's Lost.
My most challenging role at NSU has been Don Adriano De Armado in 'Love's Labour's Lost' because it involved speaking Shakespeare with a Spanish accent, trying to make the jokes funny to contemporary audiences, and wielding a sword all at the same time.... So, you understand the difficulty.
The versatile Puffer was the dance assistant for the lively musical Altar Boyz.
At the Northern Fort Playhouse, Puffer was Linus in You're a Good Man, Charlie Brown and multiple characters in Leaving Iowa. This summer, he will be creating the costumes for the Fort's productions of The Marvelous Wonderettes and Kosher Lutherans. Audiences will see Puffer's final NSU stage appearance in Spelling Bee as William Barfe, a precocious speller who relies on his magic foot to get the word right.
My favorite part about playing William Barfe is the fun I get to play a child who is misunderstood. I find him extremely funny and hope that audiences do as well.
After graduation, Puffer plans on moving down to Kansas City, Mo., where my sister and her husband live, to find more opportunities and experience at jobs in theater as well as GLBT awareness.
Honerman is a speech major and theater minor. I started in NSU Theatre with 'Urinetown the Musical' in fall 2006 and have been a part of every production up to the present. He made his first NSU appearance as a police officer in Stop Kiss and, over the years, the parts have added up with significant roles last year in The Light in the Piazza and The Three Musketeers. Equally comfortable on stage or backstage, Honerman has directed for the last two evenings of student one-act plays, even authoring a play in March, Walking on Waves.
In his final year at NSU, Honerman has appeared as Biron in Love's Labour's Lost and the Man in Chair in last October's The Drowsy Chaperone.
My favorite role at NSU was playing Man in Chair in 'The Drowsy Chaperone.' It was a great experience and was so much fun to play a part that was basically myself...someone who is so in love with theater and the people in theater that he knows all about the characters and their personal lives - definitely the most fun I had ever had with a role, he said.
For that performance, Honeman received an Irene Ryan acting nomination from the American College Theatre Festival. That honor was in addition to being invited to present a scene from the musical (only one of 10 invited to the festival from a six-state region). Honerman joined the summer troupe at the Northern Fort Playhouse at Fort Sisseton last year, where he amused audiences with his hilarious old actor in 'The Fantasticks' and uptight preacher in 'Leading Ladies,' Yurgaitis said.
Honerman is rounding out his last assignment with Spelling Bee as costume designer, creating all the costumes for the anxious spellers that are competing to win the bee. I really enjoy being the costume designer for the show, he said. I have never done costumes before now and it seemed like a great show to tread the waters. It's been a little difficult trying find the correct sizes for some cast members but we've created some nice-looking costumes and it's been a fun experience.
Honerman has big plans this summer. I will be getting married this May and then directing at the Northern Fort Playhouse for the summer. After that, I will be working while my wife finishes school. An MFA in directing is on the horizon in the next five years.
Leddy will graduate with a bachelor's degree in musical theater this year. Her career at NSU started with a small role in Miss Saigon, but has grown steadily since then. She was the matchmaker Yente in Fiddler on the Roof and delighted audiences with a variety of characters in Forbidden Broadway, Yurgaitis noted. Her performance as Margaret Johnson in The Light in the Piazza earned her an Irene Ryan acting nomination from the American College Theatre Festival.
Margaret was my favorite role and possibly most challenging, she said. It was my first mainstage lead role and on top of that, I needed a Southern accent!
Last fall, Leddy was the comical actress in The Drowsy Chaperone. For her final role, she takes on the role of Marcy Park, a very driven little girl who speaks six languages, in The 25th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee.
Leddy plans on pursuing a master's of fine arts degree in makeup design in the future in my five-year plan.