‘Seussical the Musical’ cast rehearses for success

MONKEYING AROUND: Big Rapids Public Schools' "Seussical the Musical" students rehearsed choreography on Wednesday. (Pioneer photo/Cortney Erndt)

MONKEYING AROUND: Big Rapids Public Schools’ “Seussical the Musical” students rehearsed choreography on Wednesday. (Pioneer photo/Cortney Erndt)

BIG RAPIDS – Big Rapids Public Schools have undergone an extensive rehearsal process and are now gearing up to put on an imaginative production with simplistic costumes and props.

“Seussical the Musical,” to be performed in November and December, follows several stories by Dr. Seuss.

“It looks like an easy show from the surface, but I’ve directed over 30 different musicals and this has been one of the most challenging,” said Lori Hathaway, artistic director and teacher at Big Rapids High School.

Hathaway’s role is to overview the entire musical, which will have a more simplistic set than previous productions put on by the high school, she said.

“There are many themes about using your imagination,” Hathaway said. “That’s the reason why we’re going simplistic with costumes and the set.”

Children of recent decades may be losing a sense of creativity, Hathaway said, but “Seussical the Musical” may help spark their imaginations.

“Children are so use to living in a world with right or wrong answers, which keeps them from being creative,” Hathaway said. “We want to encourage kids to use their imagination. This musical is really good for all ages because it has some really good stories.”

Memorable themes will be carried out in each story, Hathaway said.

“One of the lines that is repeatedly said in the play is, ‘A person is a person, no matter how small,’” she said. “To me, that’s a really valuable lesson.”

On Wednesday, Jeanna Lamar, production choreographer, worked with four cast members who will portray monkeys.

“It’s all music – there’s hardly any talking,” said Lamar.

“It’s one song after another, after another,” Hathaway added.

This production is more demanding for students than those in previous years, as students are asked to sing, dance and act all at the same time, Hathaway said.

“One of the greatest challenges we’ve faced is getting some of the students to be fearless and to take risks on stage,” she said. “Some of the students already do that pretty naturally.”

Aside from demanding artistic qualities, students also have to memorize every song lyric and dance move.

“There are so many big ensemble numbers; there’s so much to memorize,” Hathaway said. “But the students have had really good attitudes. Some students came to auditions with almost every song memorized.”

At the high school level, student actors and actresses include grades nine through 12 – the majority of whom have previously taken drama courses.

“They have a wide range of experience,” Hathaway said. “There are several kids in the cast who have been in several shows.”

However, younger grades weren’t left out, either.

“We needed little ‘whos,’” Hathaway said.

Several elementary and middle school students also are taking part in the performance. Hathaway suggests that parents in the community bring their children to the shows to not only support their classmates, but to be entertained by a child-friendly production.

“This is a phenomenal show to bring children to,” she said. “They will be entertained and also learn a great deal. The music is very upbeat and it’s just a really fun show.”

Aside from the casts’ performances in Big Rapids, the production will travel to Saginaw Valley State University in December, where they will perform at the Michigan Education State Theatre Festival. BRHS’ production was selected to be one of three high schools that perform at the festival.

“It’s a really big deal,” Hathaway said. “If a high school sports team was one of three in the state, there would be coverage all over the place.”

The cast will receive an educational experience unlike any other when they perform at the festival, Hathaway said.

“We have to take our entire set to Saginaw Valley and we only get two hours to set up everything and perform it,” she said. “For them to perform in front of more than 1,000 other high school theatre students –  it’s the most unique, special, awesome experience.”

MUSICALITY: Big Rapids High School students prepare choreography for "Seussical the Musical" under Jeanna Lamar's instruction. (Pioneer photo/Cortney Erndt)

MUSICALITY: Big Rapids High School students prepare choreography for “Seussical the Musical” under Jeanna Lamar’s instruction. (Pioneer photo/Cortney Erndt)

Big Rapids Public Schools’ “Seussical the Musical” performances will take place in the high school auditorium:

  • On Thursday, Nov. 13, at 7:30 p.m.
  • On Friday, Nov. 14, at 7:30 p.m.
  • On Saturday, Nov. 15, at 2:30 p.m.

The production’s Michigan Education State Theatre Festival performance date and time will be later announced.

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