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The 25th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee

The biggest little musical that could, The 25th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee, started in the Berkshires—at Barrington Stage Company, to be precise—made a successful transition to a Tony-winning Broadway triumph, and now the national touring company settles in Schenectady for a five-day, seven-show engagement.

There’s no secret to the appeal of the musical. The comic drama inherent in a spelling bee is universal, and this show puts “six young people in the throes of puberty, overseen by grown-ups who barely managed to escape childhood themselves,” into the alphabet soup. It also helps that the songs are catchy and appealing. The Wall Street Journal praised the show as being “perfect in every possible way—that rarity of rarities, a super-smart musical that is also a bona fide crowd pleaser.”

The 25th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee opens Wednesday (April 18) at 8 PM and continues through April 22 at Proctor’s Theatre (432 State St., Schenectady). Tickets are $59.75 to $19.75. Evening performances are at 8 PM and matinees are at 2 PM; call Proctor’s at 346-6204 for shows, times and ticket purchases/reservations.

High Voltage Fields

The Schenectady Museum will host its third annual High Voltage Fields conference, “exploring the convergence of art, science and technology,” this Saturday. This year’s theme is Who’s Guarding the Guards?, and the various activities all look at the current, often disturbing overlapping of technology and surveillance.

Artist-writer-geographer Trevor Paglen will speak on the subject Pictures From Nowhere: Exploring the Pentagon’s Black World. After that, there will be a panel discussion with Paglen, video artist Danny Goodwin, multimedia artist Daniel Perlin and RPI researcher Rich Radke.

Notably, there will be the regional premiere of the documentary/fiction-film hybrid Strange Culture, directed by Lynn Hershman Leeson. This official selection at both the Sundance and Berlin film festivals tells the story of artist Steve Kurtz, and how his focus on germ warfare and genetically modified foods got him indicted by the U.S. Government. Kurtz appears in the film, alongside actors Tilda Swinton and Peter Coyote. (Intriguing, yes?)

The High Voltage Fields conference will be held Saturday (April 14) at the Schenectady Museum & Suits-Bueche Planetarium (Nott Terrace Heights, Schenectady). General admission is $19; admission is $14 for museum members and students. Walk-up registration is at 9:30 AM; the keynote address by Trevor Paglen is at 10 AM; a panel discussion on The Art of Surveillance is at 11 AM; lunch, which is included with your registration, is at 12:30 PM; and the screening of Strange Culture is at 2 PM. For more information, call 382-7890.

Kid Koala

Since breaking onto the scene in 2000 with Carpal Tunnel Syndrome, DJ-stylist and visual-artist Kid Koala (pictured) has won himself some serious credibility as a prolific, entertaining, and boundary-pushing performer. Everything is fair game for the Montreal-based turntablist: Clips from Peanuts and The Wedding Singer are fused with the sounds of crickets, sneezes, lifted metal riffs and spoken word to create a vivid and heady auditory landscape.

His turntable lunacy has garnered him a diverse cast of fans, and the Kid runs with some of the coolest names in the music industry, opening for Radiohead and Bjork, spinning on Dan the Automator’s projects Lovage and Deltron 3030—he even appears on a Mike Patton solo album.

All this, plus he’s a nice guy. (If it’s your birthday, let him know.)

Kid Koala hits the Capital Region during his 90-city tour promoting his latest sonic offering, Your Mom’s Favorite DJ, playing Tuesday (April 17) at 9 PM downstairs at Valentine’s (17 New Scotland Ave., Albany) and Wednesday (April 18) at 8:30 PM at Iron Horse Music Hall (20 Center St., Northhampton, Mass). Call for prices at Valentine’s; tickets are $15 at the Iron Horse. For more information, visit or

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