‘The 25th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee’ Full Cast Announced
The Sandbox Collective has just unveiled the full cast of its upcoming staging of The 25th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee, the first production of its 2024 season.
The company kicks off its season with a partnership with Star Magic, the talent management arm of ABS-CBN. Prior to this, PETA Theater also partnered with Star Magic for its 2023 run of Walang Aray.
Toff De Venecia, The Sandbox Collective’s Managing Artistic Director, shares his excitement: “To kick off Sandbox’s 10th Anniversary, we’re very excited to partner with ABS-CBN, Star Magic, and Teatro Kapamilya—home to the country’s brightest and biggest stars—for our production of The 25th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee. 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.”
The 25th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee is a Tony award-winning interactive musical about six mid-pubescents who vie for the spelling championship of a lifetime. Much like Sandbox’s most recent productions, Every Brilliant Thing and Bawat Bonggang Bagay, the musical is an interactive production, with each show featuring four guest spellers from the audience and relying heavily on the cast’s improvisational skills. The book is written by Rachel Sheinkin with a score by William Finn.
The production will be directed by Missy Maramara, with Dingdong Rosales as assistant director and Rony Fortich as musical director.
Giving a quick glimpse into her approach to the material, Maramara shares, “Spelling Bee is about gifted children under the immense pressure of high level competition, precision, and scrutiny. I think this is a great lens to question the effect of social media on the younger generations, especially their mental health.”
The cast of The 25th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee come from diverse performing backgrounds, from Star Magic talents making their professional theatrical debuts to young theater professionals making their Sandbox Collective debuts, to theater veterans making their awaited return to the stage. When it came to casting, Maramara shares, “We looked for powerful singers who are malleable actors with great chemistry, and who will be able to delve into such questions with openness, courage and skill to navigate the themes sustainably with fun, discipline, and passion.”
Making their professional theatrical debuts in the role of overachiver Marcy Park are Star Magic talents AC Bonifacio and Shanaia Gomez. Alternating for the role of eager beaver boy scout Chip Tolentino are Diego Aranda (The Quest for the Adarna, Twenty Questions) and Luis Marcelo (Newsies, Eto Na! Musikal nAPO!). Krystal Brimner (Annie, Silver Lining) will be alternating with singer and content creator Angela Ken as the bright and humble word lover Olive Ostrovsky. A mainstay of the university theater scene, having appeared in shows like Ateneo blueREP’s Bring It On: The Musical and Zsazsa Zaturnnah: The Musical…’Yun Lang!, Elian Dominguez makes his professional stage debut as the awkward homeschooled student Leaf Coneybear. He will alternate with Shaun Ocrisma (Silver Lining, Laro).
Becca Coates (Dani Girl, Agnes of God) will be alternating with Justine Narciso (Uncle Jane, The Quest for the Adarna) as the precocious and civically-engaged Loggaine SchwartzAndGrubennierre. Taking on the role of William Barfee, the oddball speller with a unique spelling technique, will be theater actors Joshy Ramirez (Falsettos, The Little Prince) and Ron Balgos. Currently a college sophomore, Ron makes his professional theater debut in Spelling Bee. He was most recently seen in Ateneo blueREP’s Zsazsa Zaturnnah: The Musical…’Yun Lang!
Theater veterans who will be playing the adults are Liesl Batucan-Del Rosario, Audie Gemora, Robbie Guevara, and Nyoy Volante.
Previously Repertory Philippines’ Artistic Director, Batucan-Del Rosario (Wait Until Dark, August: Osage County) will be playing the role of the spelling bee moderator Rona Lisa Peretti. Current Philstage president and Trumpets Inc.’s Artistic Director Audie Gemora (La Cage Aux Folles, The Dresser) will be alternating with 9 Works Theatrical’s Artistic Director, producer, and librettist Robbie Guevara (Stage Kiss, You’re a Good Man Charlie Brown) as Vice Principal Douglas Panch. Rounding out the cast is Nyoy Volante (Kinky Boots, Sweeney Todd) playing Mitch Mahoney.
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. It will be The Sandbox Collective’s first production for its 10th year in the industry.