FEATURE: DJ Plunkett is “Leaf Coneybear” in CCM’s SPELLING BEE

DJ Plunkett

Today we sit down with UC-CCM junior Musical Theatre student, DJ Plunkett, to talk about his role in this weekend’s “The 25th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee.”

DJ in “A Christmas Carol” at Northshore Music Theatre in Boston

Can you tell us a little bit about your background and how you made your way to CCM?

I am originally from Lynn, Massachusetts (about 15 minutes north of Boston) so I was incredible fortunate to have the Boston theatre scene in my backyard growing up. I started performing when I was nine years old and studied voice, dance and acting through various master classes at North Shore Music Theatre’s Academy of Musical Theatre. I got some amazing opportunities to work on the original workshops for most of MTI’s Disney Junior series then one thing lead to the next and I was working professionally in the equity houses of the greater Boston area. CCM is among the very few “ivy league” elite schools for musical theatre so I auditioned, got accepted and here I am in Cincinnati!


For my readers who don’t know, tell us about “The 25th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee.”

The 25th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee is a musical by William Finn with a book by Rachel Sheinkin. It is a one-act outrageous comedy that acts as a satire to the national spelling bee. It is a very small ensemble cast full of crazy characters and uses improv and audience participation for a hilarious night of theatre full of laughs and a lot of heart.

DJ in CCM's "Three Penny Opera"
DJ in CCM’s “Three Penny Opera”

You play Leaf Coneybear. . .who is he? What’s his story and what should we look for from him?

Leaf is …special. He is home schooled in a hippie family who does not accept him and comes to the spelling bee having been the third runner-up previously. He makes his own clothing and may have a severe case of Attention Deficit Disorder. No matter what he faces life with unwavering optimism. You can definitely look forward to some laughs but I don’t want to give too much away.

I am not in any way trying to recreate what Jesse Tyler Ferguson did in the original broadway company. Every character has become so specific and iconic because of the incredibly talented original cast but I am excited to say that I have a very new idea of who Leaf is and my own interpretation of the character will come to life this weekend.

DJ in CCM's studio production of "Civil War"
DJ in CCM’s studio production of “Civil War”

Well, I personally can’t wait as this show is one of my top two or three favorite musicals.  What about the rest of the cast?

I mentioned previously that the original cast has definitely left their mark on the production that they created. Our amazing director Vince DeGeorge has done a wonderful job at letting our company start from scratch and take these fun kids into a more realistic place. Our cast is VERY different and non-traditional for this show. We have stayed true to the script but made our own fun twists. If you have seen the show before I guarantee you will have a new experience.

Thank you, DJ.  How can we follow your career from here?

My website is www.djplunkett.org and I update it with any new projects I am working on. Please check it out and get to know me and what I do.

“The 25th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee” runs this Thursday through Sunday at the University of Cincinnati-College Conservatory of Music in the Cohen Studio Theatre. Tickets are free and become available tomorrow at noon from the box office.  I would recommend being in line very early as this show will be not-to-be-missed.


Thanks for Reading.

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