Have you ever missed being a child, full of energy and imagination? That’s a time when you’re in your own little made-up world where everything goes your way, and you can dream of anything and everything.
Thanks to Eisenhower High School’s current production of “Seussical the Musical,” you can once again awaken that part of your childhood. The school’s musical opened March 14-17, and continues this Thursday-Saturday.
Adapting the work that Lynn Ahrens and Stephen Flaherty first brought to Broadway in 2000, this year’s spring musical from the Ike Players is a madcap romp through some of Dr. Seuss’ most famous children’s stories. There’s “Horton Hears A Who,” “Oh The Thinks You Can Think,” “McElligot’s Pool” and so many more. Set in the mind of a young boy named Jojo with his trusty friend, the Cat In The Hat, audiences join imaginary adventures to places like the Jungle Of Nool, Solla Sollew, the Circus McGurkus ... and even Palm Beach.
Along the way, the show also brings up such topics as bullying, being different and seeing what no one else sees, the insecurities of not feeling good enough and trying to change, selfishness, irresponsibility, and even the “problems” of daydreaming and having an active imagination. “Seussical” is perfect for families and audiences of all ages because it combines whimsical and colorful sights and sounds with a storyline that ultimately focuses on friendship and acceptance.
The musical’s cast started working on the show about three months ago. Isabella Parker, a junior who plays Jojo, described her character this way: “Jojo is the little kid that you were when your imagination ran wild. This is his story of all these different characters he’s made up in his head, that were put to life before him. He’s a little bit strange, but we were all that kid once.”
Lorenzo Bennett, a senior who plays one of the wacky Wickersham brothers, said: “The Wickersham brothers are just crazy, spastic and almost childish in a sense. They pretty much work with the ‘mother’ of the group — Sour Kangaroo — like mess with Horton because he’s acting different from the rest of the animals in the Jungle Of Nool. I’m hoping the audience can see that we’re having fun with our roles.”
Horton the elephant is played by senior Alberto Lechuga. He points out: “Being a lead, obviously you get to be onstage and perform and you get to show yourself more. You feel that validation; all my life I’ve always been told that I can’t do something. It’s just validation that someone who is chubby and gay and is Hispanic can actually achieve something. I’m looking forward to the audience being able to interact with us and be in a good place. I want the kids to be, like, ‘I could watch this all day.’ This show is different from what we’ve done before. This is something that will stay with me for the rest of my life.’”
The music and vocals are supported by the seasoned orchestra conducted by Joshua Gianola and the school’s music director and choir teacher, Laurel Kaschmitter.
Those who have seen other productions of “Seussical the Musical” might be in for a little bit of a surprise. The show’s set and costume designers have taken a different direction than most other productions of this play. The costumes, designed by Theresa McLean, are all handmade and are personally designed with a more “vintage circus” theme that matches the circus-themed set (designed by Stephen Clark) and lobby display (provided by the school’s dedicated drama boosters). The Eisenhower offering is one that’s not just like every other production, but rather is unique while still staying true to the story.
And on a personal note, this show is extra special because, along with being cast as Mayzie La Bird (a flamboyant and sassy bird who’s also a bit of a showoff, er, I mean, showgirl), Ike’s drama director, Janey Randall Peterson, gave me the opportunity of choreographing the show. This was a huge undertaking, as I’ve never choreographed a show on this scale before, let alone trying to direct a cast of more than 30 of my own peers. Luckily, I had a fantastic and capable assistant choreographer, junior Moira McGregor. She’s also pulling double duty by portraying Gertrude McFuzz, an awkward and plain little bird who thinks she’s not good enough and just wants Horton to notice her. Together I think we made a “#dreamteam” (as my mom likes to call us) and I’m so thrilled that I got to work with her.
Finishing my senior year and my last high school musical with not only a lead role but also serving as the choreographer for one of my favorite shows is definitely an honor. I will be very sad to leave my drama family but I’m glad that I get to end it on such a high note.
On their way inside the theater at Eisenhower, attendees for “Seussical” will be able to indulge in lots of Seussical concessions, Dr. Seuss hats for purchase, as well as photo opportunities.
“Seussical the Musical” is a production that offers fans of the stories an imaginative experience. And, oh, you’ll never know the places you’ll go!