How Seussical Stole Bishop’s

Pulling back the curtain on the direction and cast of Seussical


Mihir Bhagatwala

Before Seussical begins, a particular striped hat rests alone on the stage, waiting to be worn.

Mihir Bhagatwala, Staff Writer

“Oh the thinks you can think when you think about Seuss!” This line drives the Middle School musical this year, Seussical. It’s also repeated throughout the opening song, “Oh The Thinks You Can Think,” beginning with the Boy, played by Apollo Cai (’28), finding the Cat in the Hat’s, well, hat. The character is played by Bobby Chiu (‘26). The musical features young actors singing about friendship, loyalty, and disliking green eggs and ham. It also features dance numbers around elaborate set pieces, with some original choreography by Elise Watson (‘22) and Haha Shi (‘22). But the strength of Seussical is driven by its directors, Performing Arts and Choir teacher Ms. Lara Korneychuk, and assistant director Joseph Aguilar (‘22). 

The show intertwines three Dr. Seuss stories: Horton Hatches the Egg, Horton Hears a Who!, and Gertrude McFuzz. However, the story features characters and locations from all over Dr. Seuss’s books, including the aforementioned Cat in the Hat, Thing 1 and 2, played by Kate Watkins (‘28) and Grace Ebel (‘27) respectively, General Schmitz, played by Dash Flaig (‘27) from I Had Trouble in Getting to Solla Sollew, The Grinch, played by Maya Callaghan (‘27), McElligot’s Pool, and more. 

While Seussical did have a large cast, many actors enjoyed its size. Bobby explained, “It was really great just to be exposed to so many people. I know a lot more people I didn’t know before.” He also reminisced about good times with the cast outside of performances and rehearsals, recounting, “We were waiting for the show on Friday and I was hanging out with a few other kids, and we were watching other clips of Seussical [on Broadway] and we were looking at the different costumes and the different songs.” James O’Brien (‘26), who played Horton the elephant, also enjoyed the cast size. “I got to meet people in lower grades than me,” he said.

Castmates also described what they learned from acting in the show. Bobby said he learned a lot of new acting techniques. “I’ve never done anything quite so cartoony before. It was learning how to do something a little more ‘in your face,’” he explained. James also felt that portraying Horton was a learning experience. “I feel like Horton is a very empathetic male character and that’s not found very often in shows. It’s important to learn about and I feel more empathetic,” he said. 

Because of how large Seussical was and how much content was integrated, the direction had to be well-handled. Luckily, the directors, Ms. Korneychuk and Joseph, brought many innovative ideas to the musical. Ms. Korneychuk explained what she hoped to impart on the students: “Of course, I want them to learn to act and sing well, but I think it matters more to me that they work as a team, look out for each other, and have the experience of being part of something bigger than themselves.”

Joseph explained his own style of direction. “One of the big things that comes with directing a show like Seussical is playing with the audience’s suspension of disbelief. Using your imagination is encouraged,” he said. He went on to elaborate with an example. “In “Having a Hunch”, which I directed, we turned off the lights and had only a blue light. And the hunches who are these things in Jojo’s imagination that guide him back home to Who, we put these hunches in nothing but black [clothing] and white gloves. And the audience has to imagine these are all people,” Joseph explained proudly. He also talked about his learning experience directing Middle School theater. “With middle schoolers, they’re spry and full of energy and ready to throw themselves into whatever you want. And you can try so much and they’re willing to go for it and it’s really fun to work with them if a bit chaotic,” Joseph said as he lightly chuckled.

Ms. Korneychuk also spoke positively about the collaboration with Joseph and student choreographers, Elise and Haha. “I loved having other artistic minds working on the project with me—it’s a lot of pressure to have a whole show come out of your own head! Those three were full of excellent ideas and excited to implement them, which allowed me to take on more of a coach-role when they were running things.”  

However, the directors also discussed the challenges that came with the show. “We had to make sure the schedule was quick, snappy and we got through the numbers week to week,” Joseph said of the schedule. On a similar note, Ms. Korneychuk said, “I suppose that any time you have a large cast, it requires a lot of organization to keep track of that many young people.”

The messages are an important part of the show and relate to all ages. “The two primary emphases are the power of imagination and the importance of compassion,” said Ms. Korneychuk. “The idea that a person’s a person no matter how small can be applied to other aspects of things. It’s quite literal in this sense but definitely [present] throughout school and grades,” said Bobby. 

As a musical, Seussical showcases 34 songs from all different types of characters. Bobby said his favorite song is, “‘How Lucky You Are’ or ‘Amazing Mayzie’. I’m waiting in the wings for ‘Amazing Mayzie’ and you’ll just see me dancing along.”  “I’m not tooting my own horn or anything, but ‘Having a Hunch’ just because the song is so catchy, and it’s a banger, and it also looked cool on the stage,” Joseph added. James agreed with Joseph on ‘Having a Hunch,’ but also said, “The best one to sing was ‘Solla Sollew’ because it’s very powerful.” Ms. Korneychuk’s favorite song is “‘All for You,’ because it’s basically a showcase of Gertrude 2.0: she has discovered that her real value comes from her heart and her actions.” 

Seussical was certainly a challenge to produce, but everyone involved worked hard to create an enjoyable show honoring Dr. Seuss’s work. And just as the opening number explained, there are so many thinks to think about this play.