Monday, February 28, 2005 | Between Christo’s “The Gates” in Central Park and a huge new off-Broadway musical hit that has the oddest name, the air traffic between San Diego and New York is fierce.

One of the biggest new musical hits in New York right now is William (“Falsettos”) Finn’s “The 25th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee,” and La Jolla socialite, Barbara ZoBell, recently appeared on stage in the show. Barbara and husband Karl were in New York a week ago to see Christo’s The Gates in Central Park and catch up on the latest theatre. Sarah Bordy, a former La Jolla Playhouse employee now with the award-winning Second Stage Theatre, the producer of “Spelling Bee,” was able to snare two tickets for the ZoBells to catch a Sunday matinee.

Before the show began, Barbara was chosen to be one of the spelling bee’s contestants. Barbara, who played herself in the show, looked great and sang and spelled well. In the audience at her “Spelling Bee” matinee was Dr. Rick Simas, who teaches musical theatre at San Diego State University. He was surprised to bump into Barbara, let alone to see her on stage. How do I know all this? I happened to be there, too.

– Stage Door Josh

Josh Ellis was communications director at the La Jolla Playhouse for nine years after a 20-year career as one of Broadway’s top press agents. Now back in New York, he’s writing a play and studying to be an interfaith minister.

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