Monday, March 2 marked the 105th anniversary of the birth of Theodor Seuss Geisel, better known to the world as the incredible Dr. Seuss.
What better way to celebrate his birth than to stage the Broadway hit, “Seussical the Musical”?
That’s exactly what the cast and crew of the Donald Young School musical did last week. Over a period of three days starting last Wednesday (Feb. 25), an exceptional group of students sang, danced, and acted their way into the hearts of appreciative audiences at six separate performances.
“Seussical” is a musical based on the books of Dr. Seuss, which debuted on Broadway back in 2000 and then went on to tour all over the world.
The story consists of an interesting mixture of the characters from many of Dr. Seuss’ famous books.
As director Katherine Williams explained to the audience, “These characters have never met each other in any of Dr. Seuss’ books. They get to meet for the first time in this amazing musical.”
The overriding plot centres on Horton, from “Horton Hears a Who.” The characters from 15 of Seuss’ other books interact with Horton the elephant as he endeavours to protect the people of Whoville, who live on a tiny speck of dust.
“The Cat in the Hat” acts as narrator throughout the show, briefly leaping into the action at various points in order to create conflict and keep the story moving.
This unique musical has very few lines but depends heavily on the solos, duets, and chorus numbers to not only introduce the characters, but actually tell the story.
Friday night’s finale demonstrated just how well these young performers have mastered their story-telling abilities.
The entire show was full of strong performances from the “Cat” (Alyssa VanDrunen), “Maizie” (Maggie Gauthier), “Gertrude” (Kennedy Latimer), “Sour Kangaroo” (Haley Trimble), “JoJo” (Maxwell Williams) and, of course, “Horton,” played by Caleb Dueck.
The difficult vocals, complicated choreography, and fast-paced storyline were handled easily by this dedicated group.
“I am so proud of these students,” enthused Williams. “Each one of them has really grown into their character.
“They’ve actually become quite proactive, offering suggestions on how their character should behave or what they should be doing on stage,” she added.
“I saw some of the older, more experienced students actually tutoring the younger members of the cast; giving suggestions and encouraging them.”
Throughout the musical, Horton desperately tries to prove the existence of the Whos of Whoville. Although ridiculed by the other animals in the jungle for believing in something he cannot see, Horton stubbornly persists in his belief the Whos exist.
“A person’s a person, no matter how small,” Horton keeps repeating.
His faith and persistence eventually prevail, and he not only proves the existence of the Whos but saves their tiny world.
Dr. Seuss believed in helping a friend, in not giving up, in keeping a promise, and in the value and dignity of every individual.
These values, the central theme of “Seussical the Musical,” were demonstrated by each and every member of the cast and crew as they celebrated Dr. Seuss’ birthday by presenting the school’s sixth successful musical.
Everyone—from the most experienced performer down to the littlest “Who”—put their heart and soul into their final performance for 2009, and everyone celebrated and danced as the curtain closed.
Patty McNally, the stage manager, presented Williams with a framed poster of the musical signed by all the members of the cast.
“Without Katherine, these musicals would just not be possible,” McNally stressed.
Williams, in turn, thanked the many parents and members of the community for their hours of dedication and hard work.
“I couldn’t do it without the fantastic people behind the scenes,” she explained as she proceeded to run down the list of parents, community members, and friends from across the district who contributed to the musical’s success.
“Every year, I say it can’t get any better and every year it does,” Williams beamed as she served cake to the cast members afterwards.
“This one’s been the best,” agreed longtime cast member Alyssa VanDrunen. “I really liked the songs and the choreography was fantastic!”
Newcomer Lorianne Dueck echoed that sentiment. “It was fun and I want to do it again next year,” she declared.
The poster the cast presented to Williams contained a Dr. Seuss quote that sums it up the best: “Don’t cry because it’s over. Smile because it happened!”