“Are We There Yet?”


Parent Mr. Robert Oder

The cast and tech crew of the middle school MT8 class put on a spectacular and thoughtful production.

Who on earth is going to sit there while an actor breaks into song?” Bobby Chiu (‘26) sings as the lights come up on this year’s Musical Theater 8 (MT8) performance, “Are We There Yet?” The stage comes alive with singing and dancing to the song “A Musical” from the musical, Something Rotten. The middle schoolers travel back in time to answer this question: What are musicals and what makes them so entertaining?

“From its earliest beginnings, American musical theatre has been a smorgasbord of cultural representation and social commentary,” Teacher and Director Ms. Lara Korneychuk notes in her message in the program. The MT8 class analyzed a series of musical productions throughout history and their representation of real-world themes. Through conversations about what kind of representation the middle school students would find entertaining and relevant to their identity, the middle schoolers compiled all of these interests into this year’s MT8 show. 

“It was based on topics we personally felt that were important to us. We discussed topics like stereotypes, feminism, gender equalities, prejudice, expectations, and Judaism. We found songs that matched all of those topics from existing musicals and that’s how it all came together,” Lisa Pan (‘26) said. The show features the numbers “Happy to Keep His Dinner Warm,” sung by Sophie Arrowsmith and “So Much Better,” from Legally Blond sung by Lisa; both songs are commentaries on gender roles and the way female characters’ portrayals have evolved. 

“Our hope was to empower the eighth grade performers and technicians to seek out musical theatre in which they see themselves represented. We knew we wanted to travel through time and find the ways these students’ identities and interests showed up on stage,” Ms. Korneychuk comments. 

The play also features a variety of monologues the actors wrote themselves addressing these topics. Students Surina Verma (‘26) Bryce Buchner (‘26) and Talia Sun (‘26) present original monologues addressing expectations, and Kat Teyssier (‘26) presents an original commentary on the effect of insensitive jokes. Bobby and students Kayla Pfefferman  (‘26) and Sabrina Feldman (‘26) address Jewish representation and the way prejudice is portrayed in musical theater. 

Between many congratulations and “Nice job!”s, Bobby commented on his experience as a part of the cast. “It was a really great experience! I really enjoyed exploring all these gender identity topics and how open the class was. They were topics that we chose as students. They were topics that were relevant to us. I think that’s what really made the experience so fun!”

The student’s incredibly thoughtful production allowed the students to reflect upon the question posed in the title, “Are we there yet?” Ms. Korneychuk remarks, “These young time travelers explore musical theatre through the ages to find out whether (or not) they see themselves reflected in the characters they come across.” So as a society, are we there yet?