What To Expect At 'The 25th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee' Musical

Heal Your Inner Child By Watching Gen Z Musical ‘The 25th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee’

Bring out your dictionaries.

Interactive Gen Z musical ‘The 25th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee’ opens soon at the Blackbox Theater! R-U-R-E-A-D-Y?

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Manila theater company The Sandbox Collective is celebrating its 10th year by bringing young talents to the stage to tell a story a little bit about spelling and all about the pressures and pains of growing up. Their first staging of the year is award-winning musical The 25th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee, which centers around a—you guessed it, a school spelling bee contest.

The musical is staged in partnership with ABS-CBN’s talent management arm Star Magic and Teatro Kapamilya. It will be spearheaded and directed by theater mainstay, actress and professor Missy Maramara. Musical direction and choreography are led by Rony Fortich and Franco Ramos, respectively.

Besides being stacked with familiar names both within and outside theater circles, The 25th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee promises to deliver a comedic, engaging story driven by music, dance, and acting performances that’ll make you laugh and also get you a little sentimental. Bringing a 2000s American musical to a modern, Filipino audience can’t be an easy feat, but its themes are timeless. This makes for a great opportunity to connect with theater audiences and tell a unique story with unique characters. Buzzing with anticipation yet? Read on for some more reasons to catch the show during its limited run.


The 25th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee is a Tony Award-winning Broadway musical about an eclectic group of six mid-pubescents who vie for the spelling bee championship of a lifetime. It was workshopped in 2004 and premiered on Broadway in 2005. Spelling Bee received acclaim during its run, along with a handful of award wins and nominations—including two Tony Awards and a Grammy nomination.

A distinctive aspect of the Spelling Bee is that it’s largely character-driven, what with its ensemble of diverse, off-beat characters. There are the six young “Spellers”: Chip, Marcy, Logainne, Barfée, Olive and Leaf, and the three adults: Rona, Douglas, and Mitch. Despite each one’s quirks, though, each character is crafted and portrayed with much nuance and relatability, making the show not just hilarious, but resonant. This ensemble comes together to explore not just the pressures placed upon students (concentrated in the form of a Spelling Bee), but also themes about family, friendships, and growing up.


The 25th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee musical gen z

Featuring a mix of seasoned veterans, rising young musical theater actors, and newbies to the world of theater, the Spelling Bee strives to make good of its promise to highlight eclectic personalities, captivating voices, and energetic performances. And from the glimpses we’ve caught on TV and social media, it’s clear that the Spellers have talent and charisma in spades, and we can’t wait to see them in action.

The cast will feature Star Magic talents AC Bonifacio and Shanaia Gomez as Marcy Park, and Krystal Brimner and Angela Ken as Olive Ostrovsky. Becca Coates and Justine Narciso will share the role of Loggaine SchwartzAndGrubennierre, and alternating in the role of Chip Tolentino will be Diego Aranda and Luis Marcelo. Rounding out the spelling bee contestants will be Joshy Ramirez and Ron Balgos in the role of William Barfée, and Elian Dominguez and Shaun Ocrisma in the role of Leaf Coneybear.

The show will also feature theater veterans as the Spelling Bee’s adult characters: Audie Gemora and Robbie Guevara as Vice Principal Douglas Panch, Nyoy Volante and Jordan Andrews (in certain
performances) as Mitch Mahoney, and Liesl Batucan-Del Rosario as Rona Lisa Peretti.


The 25th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee musical gen z

Another notable feature of the musical is the involvement of “guest spellers.” At each show, four audience members will be given the chance to join the cast onstage as fellow contestants of the bee. They’ll be given a word to spell, and hopefully they spell it correctly! Not only will this contribute to the immersive nature of the production, but it also ensures that every show will have a wild card element in the form of these guest spellers. Are you up for the C-H-A-L-L-E-N-G-E?


The musical’s book by Rachel Sheinkin has been praised for being touching while still being lighthearted. The music by William Finn is also a highlight (hence the Grammy nom). Throughout the musical, we learn about the Spellers’ (and the adults’) lives, feelings, motivations, and relationships—the good, the bad, and even the hilariously unfortunate.

From wins to woes, pubescence to tumultuous familial relations, puppy-love crushes to high-stakes sabotage, The 25th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee has it all. This local staging is bringing plenty of hopes up, and the only way to see if it lives up to the hype is to watch it.

Catch this charming musical at the PowerMac Spotlight Blackbox Theater at Circuit Makati from February 24 to March 17. Get tickets here (priced from P1900 to P3300). Also, check out the hashtags #SpellSandbox2024 and #SandboxNowandTen for more information, sneak peeks, behind the scenes, and soon, maybe even some reviews!

Images courtesy of The Sandbox Collective.

Continue Reading: AC Bonifacio Makes Her Musical Theatre Debut With ‘The 25th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee’