Nothing small about Jonathan Alder’s ‘Seussical’

Messenger photo by Jeff Pfeil
Rehearsing for Jonathan Alder High School’s upcoming production of “Seussical the Musical’ are: (from left) Jenna Hollinger, Hunter Larison, Gabby Pollom, Aubrey Wright, John Coffey, Eli Thorpe, Grayson Abend, Sydney Winslow, Kennedy Norris, Aaron McLain, Ryan Gutierrez, Nehemiah Haines; (inside back circle) Kenelin Kendig, Andy Gingerich, Daniel Rodriguez and Madeline Frambes.

(Posted April 4, 2018)

By Kristy Zurbrick, Madison Editor

“A person’s a person, no matter how small.” So says Horton, the elephant who vouches for and protects the microscopic inhabitants of Whoville in the Dr. Seuss classic, “Horton Hears a Who.”

While the story follows a tiny theme, Jonathan Alder High School’s rendition of “Seussical the Musical,” for which Horton’s story provides the plot, is anything but little.

With 55 cast and crew members, an “army of costume moms,” and four show times, including a dinner theater, the production is big.

“We’ve built a turn table into the stage just for this show… We’re doing a lot with lighting and visual tricks to let the audience’s imaginations go wild,” said first-year director and teacher, Nicholas Mayes.

“And we made all of our costumes. None are rented. I have two moms handling it, and they have orchestrated an army of costume moms. Each character has their own seamstress, and the costumes are elaborate.”

Joining Horton are a menagerie of Seuss characters, their stories flowing into one another with the help of narration and song lyrics pulled straight from the books.

John Coffey, a junior, plays the iconic Cat in the Hat, who for the musical, morphs into many other characters.

“John has been really fun to work with. He does a lot of improvisation with his character and is having fun trying out different voices and personalities.”

Freshman Elijah Thorpe is doing a bang-up job in his first high school musical, playing the part of JoJo, the kid who invents the fantastical Seuss world in his head.

“Elijah comes from a very musical family. He has really stepped it up with his first show,” Mayes said.

No stranger to the stage, senior Grayson Abend is putting his expertise to work as Horton.

“His character does some really weird stuff; he spends basically the whole show talking to a speck or sitting on an egg,” Mayes said. “I’ve seen productions of ‘Seussical’ where that’s all you take away from the Horton character–that he’s weird. Grayson has taken an awkward part and is making the character relatable.”

And playing Horton’s pseudo love interest, Gertrude McFuzz, is junior Sydney Winslow.

“Sydney is probably the most prepared person in the cast. She is always on with her part,” Mayes said.

As the entire cast and crew prepares for the upcoming shows, Mayes encourages the public to make plans to see this very family-friendly production.

“It’s totally great for kids to come. It’s a spectacle of non-stop music. And it’s a wonderful show,” he said. “This might sound cheesy, but it takes you on an emotional rollercoaster. You’ll laugh full-heartedly in some spots, but also have moments where you will cry.”

Tickets to this rollercoaster are on sale at the school office, at the door, and online at www.jamb-arts.org/ (click on the “Seussical” tab).

Seats for the 6:30 p.m. dinner theater on April 12 are $25 each. The menu features chicken cordon bleu, baked potato, and deviled green eggs and ham (well, actually, a bacon garnish).

Seats for the 8 p.m. April 13-14 shows are $13 each for adults and $9 each for children. All seats for the 3 p.m. matinee on April 15 are $9 each.

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