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BWW Blog: Annalise Prentiss - SEUSSICAL THE MUSICAL at Susquehanna Stage Co.

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"Oh, the thinks you can think when you think about...SEUSS!!" Dr. Seuss, as most of us know, was one of the most iconic children's book authors. From One Fish, Two Fish, Red Fish, Blue Fish to There's a Wocket in my Pocket, Dr. Seuss never did fail to amuse children. In 2000, Seussical the Musical debuted on Broadway. Written by Lynn Ahrens and Stephen Flaherty, the musical incorporates all the memory-making Dr. Seuss stories such as Horton Hears a Who, Gertrude McFuzz, The Cat in the Hat, Green Eggs and Ham, and Oh, The Thinks You Can Think! Seussical the Musical was written to carry on the legacy of Dr. Seuss and to grant good times to anyone who sees it, and Susquehanna Stage Company located in Marietta, Pennsylvania, hopes to do just that.

Susquehanna Stage Company produces about 6 mainstage shows a year, but also loves to incorporate theatre education into their mission. So, every year, Susquehanna performs a junior show. This year, as previously mentioned, the production team decided to produce Seussical Jr. with kids ages 6 through 17. At a recent rehearsal, I had the chance to talk with some of the my castmates and our production team about their experience with Susquehanna Stage Company and being a part of this musical. Kayla Azaroff, 15, who attends Elizabethtown Area School District, takes on the role of The Cat in The Hat, one of Dr. Seuss's most notable characters. I asked her how she performed the role so well, and in such a suitable "Cat in the Hat-like" way. Kayla's response was, "I just go onto the stage and not care how silly I may look. Pretty much the more stupid I feel, the better." Well, I guess Kayla feels pretty crazy up on the stage because her performance is outstanding!

Next, I asked the cast what experiences they were getting out of Seussical Jr. Max Bartos, 13, of Commonwealth Connections Academy, who performs onstage as the comedic, yet lovable, Horton the Elephant, said that it was his first time at Susquehanna Stage Company, and that throughout the show he met a lot of fun people. "I made some really good friends during this experience and it is such a fun show!" Which is true, Seussical Jr. has many memorable moments. Pat Enos, music director, brings this up as she talks about the music styles in the show. "This show is so diverse," she says, "It features all the range of emotions. You have songs like Solla Sollew that show a softer side of the show wishing of paradise, and then you have Yertle the Turtle's 'Courtroom Scene' and 'All for You' that show the fun, dramatic, energetic sides of the show." Pat also continues to talk about her experience with junior shows. "I love it!! You get to see all the children grow up. Not only musically, but confidence-wise too!" In fact, many cast members of Seussical Jr. have been in Susquehanna's shows before. Alexa Day, 13, who attends Manheim Township School District, plays Mayzie la Bird, the sassy, flamboyant, Liza Minnelli of the jungle. Alexa comments that people should come see the show because of the messages it gives to people, such as "be yourself." Kayla also adds in the Seussical quote that "A person's a person, no matter how small"which summarizes the point of the entire show.

In the musical, Horton the Elephant (Max Bartos) hears a voice calling for help, that he later discovers are Whos living on a small speck of dust. However, the rest of the Jungle of Nool thinks he is crazy, or at least follows what the "queen of the Jungle", The Sour Kangaroo (Libby Hardesty) and her group, The Wickersham Brothers (Niamh Cushey, JerEd Mackison, Liam Roy, and Brayton Alkinburgh) say. Meanwhile, on Who, Jojo (Ryan Kimbark), Jojo's father (Ricky Fitts) and mother (Emma Creason), and the rest of Whoville are trying to remain alive, despite their unavoidable situations. That's one part of the story. On the other hand, Gertrude (Kendall Winters) is in love with Horton, but she only has one, single feather that doesn't grab his attention. So, she calls up Mayzie la Bird (Alexa Day) who helps her out with the help of her posse, the Bird Girls (Maegan Seaman, Annalise Prentiss, Sarah Biltz, and Lexy Martin). Eventually, Gertrude has the biggest tail ever and she thinks she can now win over Horton's heart, but she realizes that it was never the size of her tail that kept them from being together. This entire story is narrated by The Cat and the Hat (Kayla Azaroff) and Thing 1 and Thing 2 (Iris Thomas and Sophie Eckman).

Seussical Jr. is directed by Curt Elledge. I asked Mr. Elledge what his take was on the musical and he responded with, "Seussical Jr. has many messages entwined in the musical. If you look closer and see The Sour Kangaroo with her 'followers' you might see mob mentality. I bet some animals are only agreeing because of the 'norm'. Then you have Gertrude worrying about what she looks like and Horton being called crazy. It doesn't matter about being different, everyone and anyone can be friends, or at least get along." Seussical Jr. not only incorporates comedy, but also recognizes some problems and tries to point out some vital messages and key points that need to be seen. But, the show also delivers positive, inspirational messages, such as optimism, and believing in people. Also, it brings up the point of finding a peaceful, happy, heavenly place. Solla Sollew is a beautiful, melodic song that says someday, we will all find a paradise. The lyrics are as followed: "They say breezes are warm there, and people are kind. Maybe it's something like heaven. I close my eyes and I see in my mind, skies of bluest blue. Solla Sollew." Not only is it the lyrics and melodies of this song that make me feel warm, but also the fact that Susquehanna Stage created something more with the use of sign-language. Lauren Elledge, choreographer of Seussical Jr. says that she would like to major in sign language, and that it always came naturally to her. "I want everyone to have the satisfaction of going to a show and experiencing what they could never experience before." Maybe it's the music, or the representation of sign language that always gets me. I guess I'll never know. But I promise, Solla Sollew at Susquehanna Stage Company is too gorgeous a performance to be missed.

From the insightful messages given to the overall joy and laughter it brings, Seussical Jr. is surely one of my favorite shows I have had the chance to participate in. The cast, sets, lights, costumes, and stage directions are phenomenal, along with a fantastic production team helping to bring it all together. Finally, my last question to the cast was: if you could describe Seussical Jr. in one word what would it be? They responded with the following: colorful, exciting, understanding, awesome, and my personal favorite, FANTASTICAL! (No, it's not a word, but why not? It is Dr. Seuss after all.) So, please come see Seussical because I promise you, it will definitely be fantastical! Oh, and remember, "Anything's possible!"

Seussical Jr. runs May 13-15 and 20-22 at Susquehanna Stage Company located at 264 West Market Street in Marietta, Pennsylvania. (This location is located behind the Community House.) They finish their season with, Big River, Little Shop of Horrors, and All is Calm. For more information call the box office at (717) 426-1277 or visit their website at www.susquehannastageco.com for more details. Hope to see you there!

Check out the preview video below!


Seussical the Musical cast rehearsing "Anything's Possible"


The Whos rehearsing "Here on Who"


Max Bartos (Horton) and Ryan Kimbark (JoJo)


The Cast


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From This Author Guest Blogger: Annalise Prentiss

Annalise Prentiss has been singing and dancing since she was three years old and has been performing on stage since she was seven. She has (read more...)

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