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The Student News Site of The Bishop's School

The Tower

The Student News Site of The Bishop's School

The Tower

The Student News Site of The Bishop's School

The Tower

Friday’s Middle School Musical Brings a Spelling Bee to the Stage

@bishops.performingarts on Instagram
“My favorite part about being in the play is the people. We have really grown together through hours of hard work, and it’s like being in a big family,” Kathleen Owens (‘29), who plays Logainne Schwartzandgrubeniere said. After four months of rehearsals, the talented middle schoolers have built a close community, and their passions add the final touches that bring the show to life.

William Barfée (Bar-fay)’s name is constantly mispronounced. He spells words by writing the letters out with his “Magic Foot”. 


Logainne Schwartzandgrubeniere proposed a constitutional amendment lowering the voting age to ten.


Olive Ostrovsky, a girl who loves to spell, is just trying to be seen by her parents who are completely absent in her life.


The middle school play, The 25th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee, tells the story of six quirky, young kids in a spelling bee, each with unique traits that the audience and the children themselves learn more about as the show progresses. 

Abigail Wiener (‘28), who plays the winner of the previous year’s spelling bee, Chip Tolentino, explained, “All of the characters have their own quirks and amazing personalities that are so fun to watch on stage. There are also audience volunteers who go up to spell, and in our case, they’re Middle School teachers, who are guaranteed to be hilarious to watch.” 

Alongside fun and energetic songs, the musical also tells a meaningful story. Kaia Wood (‘29), who plays Olive Ostrovsky, explained, “It’s a commentary about what commonly affects kids and how different hurdles in life are overcome.” The kids navigate through their own personal struggles in life, and learn to embrace their uniqueness. “By the end everyone will be attached to each individual personality and story,” Abigail said. 

Abigail continued, “It ranges from laugh out loud hilarious to sad and nostalgic.” Isaac Smedra (‘29), who plays William Barfée, added, “[the musical] displays this year’s core value of belonging paired with comedic relief.” 

All of the actors are incredibly talented, and through months of hard work, they have prepared an amazing performance. Abigail said, “This show has something for everyone.” 

The middle schoolers were able to grow as singers, actors, and dancers throughout the process, and were also able to create long lasting memories. 

Kaia explained, “In our day to day school day we don’t usually talk to people beyond our grade. We have built such a community and our cast has such a close bond…Meeting new people in different grades is one of my favorite parts of being in our musical.” 

“I know that next year when I’m in high school and they aren’t, I’ll still talk with my friends from the other grades because of our time in the musical together.”

— Abigail Wiener ('28)

This show is not only meaningful for the actors, but also for a few special students behind the scenes. The classes of 2024, 2025, and 2026 were working on the same musical when the pandemic hit in the middle of their rehearsal process in 2020. Sophia Gleeson (‘24), an original cast member, explained, “I was devastated. I still remember what scene we were supposed to work on the day we were sent home from school.” She added, “The show has always felt like an unfinished product for me, so I’m so excited to finally have a part in a full production of it coming together!”

Ben Hollingshead (‘24), another original cast member, said, “I will be living a bit vicariously through this performance. Yes, our class didn’t get to perform on stage, but I think watching and helping this talented group of middle schoolers perform this musical on stage and shine will bring me so much joy.” 

With the announcement of the same musical, Ben, Sophia, and other original cast members were called in to help out. Sophia, a choreographer for the play alongside Isadora Blatt (‘24), explained, “Ms. Korneychuk reached out to me and some of the other original cast members of the musical to ask if we wanted to help out with this production. She asked if Isadora and I would be interested in choreographing, and I’m really interested in choreography for musical theatre, so I said yes.”

Sophia learned a lot about the musical theatre dance style through classes and shows Ms. Donna Cory, our devoted and beloved long time dance teacher, who passed away last year, and took inspiration from her teaching. Sophia explained, “She treated us like adults, taught us how to really focus, and grounded us in the reality of the outside dance world. Her creative mind was inspiring, but she still allowed for her students’ creativity to shine as well. I really want to push the kids in the show with the dance aspect as much as I can. I grew my love for musical theatre and dance from Ms. Cory and in shows at Bishop’s, and I want to give these kids the same experience.” 

Sophia added, “My favorite part of the process now is probably getting to know the kids in the cast. It’s so cool to work with them, see them take on the characters in a new way, and pass on our wisdom. Aspects of the art forms that are so intuitive for me now are unfamiliar to them, and it’s cool to see how far I’ve come in my knowledge and skills since I was their age.” 

Ben reflected similarly. He explained, “Ms. Korneychuk asked if I would be interested in helping out with the Spelling Bee and I jumped at the chance…When I look at the current cast of Spelling Bee, every one of them is so talented. As assistant director, if I give them the same sense of confidence and belonging that was gifted to me, I would consider my job a success.”

The show reflects the hard work of so many people, on and off the stage. Isaac concluded, “I think people should see the show to experience the group effort the fantastic cast and crew have worked very hard on for months to create an amazing performance.” Kathleen Owens (‘29), who plays Logainne Schwartzandgrubeniere added, “it is really fun and enjoyable, and I think a lot of people would have a great time.”


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About the Contributor
Melanie Yau
Melanie Yau, Assistant Graphics Editor
Melanie is a sophomore and assistant graphics editor for The Tower! This is her second year on staff, and along with writing, she enjoys drawing, dancing, and playing and listening to music. She will never say no to “boba and shopping,” even if it means studying until 12:00 am and being dead tired the next day. In her free time, she loves going on bike rides with her family, walking her two dogs, and baking with her sister. She is so excited for the upcoming year! 

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    Janann TaylorMay 15, 2024 at 9:33 AM

    Very insightful article sharing the essence of The Putnam County 25th Annual Spelling Bee! We look forward to the performance with the reported talented and committed cast and crew. Congratulations to valuable experience development and presentation!

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