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Sandbox Collective presents ‘The 25th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee’

By Arry Asiddao
February 15, 2024

For its 10th anniversary, Manila-based theater company The Sandbox Collective, in partnership with ABS-CBN, Star Magic, and Teatro Kapamilya, returns with its newest production, the award-winning Broadway musical ‘The 25th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee.'

Known for its groundbreaking theatrical work, Sandbox collaborated with ABS-CBN’s talent management arm, Star Magic, for its take on the celebrated interactive musical, featuring a talented ensemble of up-and-coming artists and theater veterans.

“This partnership is sure to excite, inspire, and propel our creative industries forward as stars of stage and screen converge to bring one of Broadway’s most beloved musicals to life,” said Cong. Christopher “Toff” De Venecia, The Sandbox Collective’s Managing Artistic Director.


The Sandbox Collective's Managing Artistic Director Cong. Toff De Venecia hosts the press launch of The 25th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee. Photo courtesy of Sandbox.

Equal parts funny and heartfelt, the musical comedy follows an eclectic group of students as they compete in the titular spelling championship. The 25th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee is based on the Tony Award-winning book by Rachel Sheinkin and boasts a vibrant score by William Finn. The show's unique format involves the participation of guest spellers from the audience, allowing the cast’s improvisational skills to shine.

The 25th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee will be directed by seasoned actress, educator, and director Missy Maramara. Theater actor and SPIT Manila founding member Dingdong Rosales will serve as the assistant director for the musical, and Rony Fortich, a TOYM awardee and the founding musical director of Hong Kong Disneyland, will serve as the musical director.

ith backgrounds in improv, the directorial duo Maramara and Rosales offer a unique and fresh approach to the musical. Maramara shared, “We bring that same joy of improv in developing the collaborative nature of worldbuilding. The improv and theater exercises we put the cast through develop their characters while it prepares them to handle the unscripted parts of the musical.”


The cast of The 25th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee. Photo courtesy of Sandbox.

Both from Star Magic, AC Bonifacio and Shanaia Gomez make their professional theatrical debuts as Marcy Park in the musical. Other cast members include Diego Aranda and Luis Marcelo as Chip Tolentino, Krystal Brimner and Angela Ken as Olive Ostrovsky, Elian Dominguez and Shaun Ocrisma as Leaf Coneybear, Becca Coates and Justine Narciso as Loggaine SchwartzAndGrubennierre, and Joshy Ramirez and Ron Balgos as William Barfee. These young talents will be joined by industry veterans Liesl Batucan-Del Rosario, Audie Gemora, Robbie Guevara, Nyoy Volante, and Jordan Andrews.


The 25th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee kicks off Sandbox’s 2024 season

A full-sensory experience, the musical will use Samsung Neo QLED with screens and cameras to immerse the audience in a live show taping. To execute this vision, D Cortezano will serve as lighting designer and technical director, Aji Manalo as sound designer, and Joyce Garcia as video designer. Toff de Venecia shared, “It’s always been the vision for Sandbox to produce multimedia work that combines artistic disciplines with theater as the foundation to innovate our content. When director Missy pitched her vision to the team, it was a resounding Y-E-S!”

Completing the artistic and production team are Franco Ramos as choreographer, Tata Tuviera as production designer, Toff de Venecia as managing artistic director, Anna Santamaria as operations and finance director, Isabella Jose-Gregorio as marketing and public relations director, Maine Manalansan as design director, Charyl de Guzman as production manager, Pachot Festejo as production stage manager, and Salve Villarosa as marketing and public relations manager.

The 25th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee will run from February 24 to March 17, 2024, at the Power Mac Center Spotlight Black Box Theater, Circuit Makati. Tickets are now available through show buyers and Ticket2Me online:

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