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[True] Freshman

In college athletics, having a first-year player—or true freshman—start on a team speaks as much to the talent of the individual as it does to the opportunity provided by the institution. At Ohio Northern University opportunity extends far beyond the field of play. It resides everywhere — in the classroom, in the laboratory and even on the stage.

The latest evidence of this fact is freshman Trevor Dorner, a musical theatre and music composition major from Perrysburg, Ohio, who won a leading role in the upcoming Freed Center for the Perform Arts production of the “25th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee.”

Directed by Broadway veteran Gwen Arment, the play is a one-act musical comedy centering on a fictional spelling bee set in the geographically ambiguous Putnam Valley Middle School where six quirky adolescents compete in a competition run by three equally quirky adults. Dorner plays Chip Tolentino, the cocky defending spelling bee champion.

“Chip is definitely one of those middle-school kids who acts like he knows everything about anything,” said Dorner. “But what Chip starts to realize is that when you start to grow there are a lot of different things that you have to deal with, one of which interferes with his spelling.”

While his character may have an oversized ego, Dorner is humble when speaking of his casting in the production.

“I was definitely surprised when I got the call saying that they wanted me to audition for the role,” he said.

Meet the Cast

Olive Ovstrosky: Rebecca Brunelle, a senior communications arts major from Lima, Ohio.

Leaf Coneybear: Matthew Rarey, a junior communications arts major from Findlay, Ohio.

William Barfee: Sean Varga, a sophomore communication arts major from Olmstead Falls, Ohio.

Chip Tolentino: Trevor Dorner, a freshman musical theatre major from Perrysburg, Ohio.

Loganne Schwartzandgrubenniere: Hayley Reynolds, a sophomore communication arts major from Sylvania, Ohio.

For Dorner, coming to Northern was more like a reunion with old friends. His brother Trent Dorner, BA '10, had also been a part of the Ohio Northern theatre department, which allowed Trevor to meet some of his fellow cast members before he was even looking at colleges to attend.

“Every time that I came up to see Trent perform, I would be introduced to people in the department,” said Dorner. “But even though I already knew a lot of the inner workings of the department, all of my fellow cast member helped me with a lot of the things I still didn’t know. They’ve sort of taken me under their wings.”

Working with familiar faces has been great, but the part of the production Dorner has most enjoyed is getting to work with Arment.

“I had done mostly high school production before I came to Northern so it was so interesting getting to come here and work with someone who has been working on Broadway for so long,” said Dorner. “I came in thinking I would be in a 12-hour rehearsal period and would be working until I hated the show, but it was surprisingly laid back. We got everything done really quickly and we got to have fun.”

When asked why she chose to cast an incoming freshman for one of the main roles in late spring of the previous school year, Arment’s answer was simple.

“I know some directors do look at age as a factor when casting, but I have never been one of them,” she said. “Trevor was chosen because he is a very bright and talented young man, and I knew from the start that he would be very receptive.”

To meet with the show’s schedule, Dorner arrived on campus a week before the start of the academic year to begin rehearsing. He credits that time with helping him into his new college environment, and in seeing the way in which Dorner interacts with his fellow cast members (mainly of juniors and seniors) it is easy to see how far Dorner has come in such a short amount of time, and where he plans to go in the future.

“If ‘Spelling Bee’ is going to set the tone for my next four years, I can’t wait to see what these next four years have in store.”


“The 25th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee” will be performed Sept. 15-18 at 7:30 p.m. with two matinee showings on Sep. 17-18 at 2 p.m. Because “Spelling Bee” features adult content, the Freed Center recommends that no one under age 16 attend this production.

Tickets are $15 for adults, $12 for seniors and non-ONU students, and $9 for children. Tickets are on sale now. The Freed Center box office is open Monday through Friday from noon to 5 p.m. and Saturday from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. Phone orders are accepted with American Express, MasterCard, VISA or Discover by calling 419-772-1900. Tickets also are available online at

—Nick Vonderau
Seven Hills, Ohio