The university’s Chappell Players are at it again. This time, the theatre group drew
inspiration from the colorful and whimsical world of Dr. Seuss to perform the classic “The Cat
in the Hat.” The feline, with his iconic red and white striped hat, is brought to life in a
performance that looks to captivate children and students alike.
A rich part of the Chappell Players’ tradition is to put on a play for kids enrolled in nearby
elementary schools. This year, 14 schools will be welcomed to view the performances. A
total of five shows will be performed for the children, estimating 400 students per show.
This production will be senior Dennis Cullen’s debut as a director for the Chappell
Players. “The Cat in the Hat” is his 11th show with the theatre group.
Cullen’s first experience with the Chappell Players was actually for another children’s
show just a few years ago.
“My first real experience with the Chappell Players was my freshman year during the
children’s show,” Cullen said. “I was the lighting operator, so this has come full circle
because now I can direct the show. And it’s almost the end of my experience here at St.
John’s, so it’s very exciting.”
After participating in last year’s children’s show, sophomore Paul Derych has returned to
the stage in the role of the Fish, the Cat’s antagonist. His character called for an interesting
“I didn’t really know what direction I wanted to go,” Derych said. “Was I going to be in a
fish costume, or fish head, but having me manipulate the fish by hand was the best option,”
Accompanied by a colorful set and a sense of enthusiasm, the cast reconnected with
their youth in “The Cat in the Hat.”
“I feel as if I’m reliving part of my childhood because I remember reading Dr. Seuss
books when I was a kid,” Aria Laucella, who plays the Cat, said.
“Always loving the whimsical world and how everything was shapes and different sounds
and different things that you heard when you were little, and it was just a big joy, so to be
able to put that on for kids for me is a big deal.” Laucella said.
The play revolves around the story of Sally and her brother who are stuck inside their
home on a rainy day.
A mischievous Cat relieves the siblings’ boredom by entertaining them with a series of
tricks and games.
The children’s pet Fish, however, serves as the enemy in the story as he repeatedly
scolds the Cat and demands that he stops his tricks and leaves the house.
The Cat brings in his comrades that add to the excitement of the games that further
destroy the house. After the Fish realizes that the children’s mother is on her way home, the
Cat and his comrades immediately leave the house, but not without cleaning up the mess
When the children’s mother asks them what they did that day, the children respond with,
“What would you [say] if your mother asked you?”
Due to the uniqueness of a children’s show, some cast members tend to appreciate the
reaction of the audience more than they would in other shows.
“We’re kind of like a Dr. Seuss book ourselves. We come from different aspects of the
whimsical world of St. Johns but we put on a good show on the stage,” Laucella said.