November 2, 2005
This Friday, the imaginative world of Theodore Geisel — better known as Dr.Seuss — comes to the Bowe Theatre, as the HRV performing arts department presents “Seussical! The Musical.” Opening night marks the beginning of a three-weekend run.
“Seussical” ran on Broadway in 2000, including a short appearance by Rosie O’Donnell as The Cat in The Hat. The musical, with book, music, and lyrics by Lynn Ahrens and Stephen Flaherty, toured the country twice and has become wildly popular with school, community, and regional theaters.
Director Mark Steighner says that “just like with the books of Dr. Seuss, the audience must engage their imagination — it’s a very participatory show that way.”
Steighner noted that the score is a virtual catalogue of popular musical style.
“There are funk, blues, ragtime, rock, pop, and torch songs. Each character expresses themselves through a distinctive musical style. For instance, the Sour Kangaroo always sings in an ‘R&B’ style, while the Whos have a ragtime approach.” The writers were also responsible for the Tony-award-winning musical, “Ragtime.”
The HRV production began rehearsals in August, and typically includes a large cast of students, ranging in age from 8 to 18.
At least six schools are represented by the cast. Leads include Kelsey Brauer as The Cat in the Hat, Joel Valle as Horton the Elephant, Sarah Nuss as Gertrude McFuzz, Julie Stanley as Mayzie LaBird, and Ben Sheppard as General Ghengis Khan Schmitz. Elijah Maletz plays JoJo, a young boy in whose imagination the characters come to life.
Although the setting for “Seussical” is minimal, costuming the dozens of actors has been a large task. Parent volunteers Kelli Wade, LaJuana Decker, Kathy Peldyak and designers at Helen’s Pacific Costumes in Portland have all had a hand in the show. Lynne Schuepbach has added a number of artistic touches to the design of the set as well.
The show is suitable for all ages and runs Nov. 4, 5, 11, 12, 18, and 19 at 7 p.m., and Nov. 5, 12, and 19 at 1:30 p.m. Tickets are $7 for adults and $5 for students and children, and are available at Waucoma Books and at the door.