AC Bonifacio Makes Her Theater Debut In The Sandbox Collective’s Production Of ‘The 25th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee’ as Marcy Parker
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Rewriting Her Stars: AC Bonifacio on Shifting Through Different Artistic Mediums as a Performer

AC Bonifacio wears Gentle Monster sunglasses; Ottolinger jacket, top, skirt,; Shushu Tong shoes. Photo by Joseph Bermudez, styled by Andrea Ang and Chelsea Sarabia, art directed by Bea Lu

From dancing to making her theater debut, AC Bonifacio is making her mark as a true performer. For The Sandbox Collective’s production of The 25th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee, Bonifacio expands her star from Tiktok fame and toward a triple song-dance-act showcase in the role of Marcy Park.

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At 11:00 in the morning, AC Bonifacio was all smiles as she kicked off her day with a photo shoot with Vogue Philippines. “Hello, I’m AC po!” she cheerily greeted everyone. As quick as she flashed a warm smile, Bonifacio quickly snapped into a different mode when the photo shoot began, seamlessly transitioning into various poses. No matter how big or subtle, every movement is deeply ingrained in her experience as a performer. Not even the wind blowing in different directions could faze the young talent. She simply flows along effortlessly.

AC Bonifacio wears a Sandy Liang sweater, Ottolinger skirt, Shushu Tong shoes. Photo by Joseph Bermudez, styled by Andrea Ang and Chelsea Sarabia, art directed by Bea Lu

Bonifacio has already proven time and time again that she can do anything, as evidenced by her track record in the entertainment industry. At a young age, Bonifacio began training as a dancer. Her career path began by performing with Lucky Anchenta in their dancing duo, “Lucky Aces,” where they competed in local and international competitions and gained global recognition. In 2015, they even performed with pop artist Ariana Grande during the Vancouver show of The Honeymoon Tour.

Bonifacio found a lot of success through dancing, but the young performer has evolved. Through the years, she has proven herself a triple threat—acting in local and international TV shows and films, and releasing her own music with ABS-CBN Star Music.

AC Bonifacio wears Gentle Monster sunglasses; Ottolinger jacket, top, skirt,; Shushu Tong shoes. Photo by Joseph Bermudez, styled by Andrea Ang and Chelsea Sarabia, art directed by Bea Lu
AC Bonifacio wears Gentle Monster sunglasses; Ottolinger top, skirt,; Shushu Tong shoes. Photo by Joseph Bermudez, styled by Andrea Ang and Chelsea Sarabia, art directed by Bea Lu

Now, she steps into the realm of theater as Marcy Parker, a high-achieving American middle schooler, in The Sandbox Collective’s production of The 25th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee. Bonifacio displays her prowess as a performer in the show, acting alongside theater veterans and fellow young talents.

On finding her footing on the theater stage

For Bonifacio, her desire for performing has always been present, even in her early years. “I think for me, I’ve always just wanted to be onstage ever since I was a kid. I just wanted to be onstage inspiring other people, because I absolutely loved when I could see people smiling because of what they saw or heard from me,” she says.

AC Bonifacio wears Gentle Monster sunglasses; Ottolinger jacket, top, skirt,; Shushu Tong shoes. Photo by Joseph Bermudez, styled by Andrea Ang and Chelsea Sarabia, art directed by Bea Lu

It doesn’t matter what project she’s working on, either. Whether it’s through singing, dancing, or acting, Bonifacio channels her creativity and storytelling in her performances. “In all of them, I put my heart in, and it’s really like an open diary in each one. In dancing, my goal for you is to feel what I’m feeling. When I’m singing or acting, it’s the same thing. I’m trying to tell you a story,” she says. Passion is also equally important for Bonifacio. “I’ve seen a lot of dancers who are just doing it for the sake of doing it, but iba when you’re passionate. If they keep wanting to learn, you can see it in their eyes. You can see how they grow, you can feel the love when they perform, and know how much they’re into it,” she says.

Having grown up with a passion and desire for the stage, it makes sense for Bonifacio to step into theater. This desire was fueled during the pandemic when she was inspired by the Tony Award-winning musical Hamilton. “I fell in love with it; I watched it again and again. And the feeling Hamilton gives me, I want to give other people that feeling,” she says.

Photo by Joseph BermudezAC Bonifacio wears a Sandy Liang sweater, Ottolinger skirt, Shushu Tong shoes. Photo by Joseph Bermudez, styled by Andrea Ang and Chelsea Sarabia, art directed by Bea Lu
AC Bonifacio wears a Sandy Liang sweater, Ottolinger skirt, Shushu Tong shoes. Photo by Joseph Bermudez, styled by Andrea Ang and Chelsea Sarabia, art directed by Bea Lu

Despite establishing herself as a skilled performer, Bonifacio initially had doubts about auditioning for The 25th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee. “I just said, ‘You know what, whatever. Let me just audition.’ I didn’t think that I was going to get it because I’ve never done theater in my life! So I went into the audition with no expectations,” she says. 

In preparation for her audition and the role, Bonifacio put in the hours rehearsing with her voice coach, practicing all day and night. “Once I got the role, I really tried to put myself in Marcy’s shoes and figure out her backstory and why she’s at the bee. It was a lot of help having all of the cast, and of course, our director, Missy Maramara, and the whole team. And I’ve been putting in the work, whether that be in rehearsals or even just at home,” she says.

Last weekend, The 25th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee opened at the PowerMac Center Spotlight Blackbox Theater. Bonifacio reflects on the experience of making her theater debut: “It’s been so amazing. We’ve been crying in almost every single show because we’ve bonded so well as a cast and as a team. And it’s really become such a safe place for me that I love it. Honestly, if I could keep going and running for how many years, I would keep going!”

AC Bonifacio wears Ottolinger jacket, top, skirt,; Shushu Tong shoes. Photo by Joseph Bermudez, styled by Andrea Ang and Chelsea Sarabia, art directed by Bea Lu

AC’s next moves

In playing the role of Marcy Park, Bonifacio takes away an important lesson: “I learned to not be worried and just do what you want to do. Don’t let everyone else’s opinions get to you. They don’t control you; they don’t mold you. You have the freedom of choosing what you want to do and how you want to be.”

She carries this lesson with her as she continues to dream big for the future. “Everything I’m doing now, I want to continue doing it. But definitely more international stages, whether that be singing, dancing, or theater. I also want to choreograph, and I’d love to teach classes around the world,” she says. “Whatever comes my way, I will work hard for it.”

The 25th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee will run from February 24 to March 17, 2024, at the Power Mac Center Spotlight Blackbox Theater, Circuit Makati. For more information, visit The Sandbox Collective’s social media page or website.

By DAPHNE SAGUN. Photography: JOSEPH BERMUDEZ. Digital Editor: ANDREA ANG. Stylist: ANDREA ANG and CHELSEA SARABIA. Makeup: KIM ROY OPOG. Hair: ARTHUR TOLENTINO. Talent: AC BONIFACIO. Art Direction: BEA LU. Producer: BIANCA ZARAGOZA. Special thanks to Ticia Almazan and Toff de Venecia
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