I had a great Saturday with Peninsula High’s theater and music department’s coach Kara Beloate and her sound and lighting and set personnel, a fine pit orchestra, and a cast of (what appeared to be thousands) of thespians, dancers, singers and jokesters honing their performance for next month’s presentation of the popular musical “Seussical.”
"Oh, the thinks you can think,” enthused Beloate, "when Dr. Seuss' best-loved characters collide and cavort in this unforgettable musical caper.
Tony winners Lynn Ahrens and Stephen Flaherty brought to life all of our favorite Dr. Seuss characters: Horton the Elephant, The Cat in the Hat, Gertrude McFuzz, Lazy Mayzie and a little person with a big imagination, Jojo, who take us from the Jungle of Nool to the Circus McGurkus to the invisible world of Whoville. Though a feast of color and special effects, choreography and song that young and old will love, "Seussical" tackles themes like bullying, loneliness, parenting, war and the environment and reminds us of the powers of friendship, loyalty, family, community, children … and our imagination.
Junior Jamie Egge, who plays a Who, says the theme of bullying is meaningful to her, as she has people close to her who are being bullied.
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"This show has taught me about the power of community. The magic that we create together is so cool because we have so many people who have fully committed to making this show great,” Egge said.
Technician Lauryn Canell, a junior, said, “Although Seuss wrote children’s books, these have lessons everyone can learn, and our talented cast and technicians bring it to life and joy and hope. Most meaningful to me is that sometimes you have to stand up for someone who can't stand up for themselves; it’s a great opportunity to make a friend.”
“Society pressure is the most meaningful theme of this show for me,” said freshman and jungle animal Kayla Carris. "Gertrude changes herself in an attempt to be noticed by Horton. I know a lot of girls who feel they need to wear makeup or dress differently just to be noticed.”
"To quote Dr. Seuss, I’ve learned that, ‘None of us are alone in the universe,' because our PHS Theatre Department is one big family,” said junior Audrey Carter, who plays a Who.
Don't be afraid of being original, of being unique, said senior David Gilman who plays Horton the Elephant.
"Horton and Gertrude both struggle with being different than the ‘normal' that surrounds them and end up learning more about themselves and what they are capable of than they ever thought before. I’ve never had such a large role before, so its been challenging and fun adapting to the huge work requirement,” Gilman said.
Senior Tony Lasley, a master electrician who also plays Vlad Vladikoff, appreciates the theme of non-conformity.
"In an age of major trends, this show teaches us to break with the norm and be who you want,” he said.
Stage manager junior Lauren Kilcup said,“Seussical" appeals to all ages because of the simplicity of the themes.
"I've learned the importance of being a leader, and in that, showing compassion. I've learned the importance of being focused and planning things out and that kindness is essential for a theatre team to work well,” she said.
Senior Savy Brown, who is the Sour Kangaroo learned through this experience to not keep one's talents hidden.
"Be confident. There’s always someone out there who thinks you’re extraordinary!” Brown said.
Technician Alex Wiklund, a freshman playing a jungle animal, said the show has a childish charm and provides deeper meaning.
"I’ve learned you won’t do anything by sitting; you have to go out there and become something and don’t give up — no matter what stands in your way,” Wiklund said.
When:7 p.m. May 3-5, 11- 12 and 3 p.m. May 6
Where: Milton S. Boyd Performing Arts Center at Peninsula High.
$14 adult, $12 student/senior/military. General seating tickets are available online at phs.psd401.net
. Reserved seats can be purchased at the PHS Theatre Box Office 2-4 p.m.
Thursdays and Fridays, beginning April 26,
and 10 a.m. - 3 p.m. April 28
or two hours prior to each show.