By CRISTINA JANNEY
Local children will take audiences on a fanciful tour through the world of Dr. Seuss during performances next weekend of the musical “Seussical.”
The musical is the annual children’s production sponsored by Hays Community Theatre. Performances will be at 7:30 p.m. Friday, Sept. 13 and 10:30 a.m. and 7:30 p.m. Saturday, Sept. 14 in the gym of Celebration Community Church. Tickets are $5 and can be purchased at the door or online at www.hctks.com.
“Seussical” is by Lynn Ahrens and Stephen Flaherty and is based on the Dr. Seuss stories. Although the musical does not follow exactly any of the Seuss plots, you will recognize many of the Seuss characters. The plot is most closely related to the story of “Horton Hears a Who.”
“It is a lot of singing. It is a lot of Dr. Seuss characters all in one story,” Wendy Richmeier, director, said. “We have the Whoes. We have the Grinch. We have The Cat in the Hat. We have Horton. We have a lot of Seussical-like jungle creature and circus creatures. It is all one ‘think’ rolled into one.”
Richmeier and student director and choreography 15-year-old Faith Fondoble have taken on quite a challenge with a cast of 40 kids ages 7 to 14 plus an eight-student stage crew. Fondoble, Ellis High School sophomore, assisted with choreography last year in HCT’s youth production of “Junie B Jones” and stepped into a larger role this year.
“She is wearing a big hat this year,” Richmeier said of Fondoble. “She has done a great job. I am very proud of her. It has to be very nerve-racking — one, taking this role when she has never done it and also doing choreography. She knows she has 40 kids that she has to choreograph a dance for.”
The production has put as much color and fantasy in the props, costumes and set design as possible.
“A zebra is not going to look like a regular zebra,” Richmeier said. “It is going to be a colorful Dr. Seuss zebra. A tiger is not going to look like a regular tiger. It is going to look like a Dr. Seuss tiger. Kids’ imagination is what it is.”
Richmeier said not every child is athletic or academic. Theater gives some kids a niche and a place to be, she said.
“They meet new friends. They learn new things about themselves. Some of them just wanted to try it,” she said. “Maybe they will find this isn’t for them or maybe they will find this is my love, my passion.
“We see a lot of kids just grow. We have some kids with our children’s theater program since our very first show. We have some from this who have gone on to vocal lessons because they enjoy singing — they enjoy doing musicals. It is really getting them out of their box and out of their normal shell — trying something new.”
Although this a children’s story performed by children, Richmeier said she thought it is a musical all ages can enjoy.
“I think everybody read Dr. Seuss at one time, whether it was to themselves or to a child or to a classroom, so this is an opportunity to see a little Dr. Seuss come alive on stage,” she said.
Despite having the roof ripped off its worship center in August, Celebration Community Church is again hosting the HCT youth production. The production will be in the gym, which has been converted into the church’s worship center pending repairs to the main hall. A free-will donation to benefit the church repairs will be taken during all three performances.
“Our kids show is all about the kids learning and having fun and experiencing something new,” Richmeier said. “The one thing that I never worry about is perfection. This is about them. This is what makes our children’s productions so enjoyable to direct is seeing them have a good time, try something new and just enjoying themselves.”
Cast and crew list
Addy Brull – JoJo
Avery Koehn – The Cat in the Hat
Nathan Stecklein – Horton the Elephant
Jesse Staab – Mr. Mayor
Brooke Leiker – Mrs. Mayor
Chloe Rice – Gertrude McFuzz
Elizabeth Noble – Maizie La Bird
Owen Appelhans – Wickerhsam Monkey
Brynn Harbaugh – Wickerhsham Monkey
Josiah Hill – Wickersham Monkey
Judah Bloom – Wickersham Monkey
Clare Tholstrup – Bird Girl
Maycie Holdeman – Bird Girl
Jenna Kisner – Bird Girl
Bailey Barnes – Sour Kangaroo
Genevieve “Evie” Dietz – Young Kangaroo
Micah Harbaugh – Judge Yertle the Turtle
Ainsley Harbaugh – Vlad Vladikoff, Courtroom Attendant
Christian Miller – The Grinch
Emmalyn Harbaugh – Thing 1
Aliyah Conner – Thing 2
Conner Miller – Who Family Dad
Ahnalyn Leiker – Who Family Mom
Malachi Miller – Who Family Kid
Blair Paul – Who Family Kid
Isaac Bloom – Ring Master, Who Family Dad
Janessa Miller – Who Family Mom
Greta Harbaugh – Who Family Kid
Annalise Harbaugh – Who Family Kid
Ella Pfeifer – Jungle Creature, Fish
Savannah Wittkorn – Jungle Creature, Fish
Lydia Hickel – Jungle Creature, Fish
Rexton Leiker – Jungle Creature, Boy Hunter
Makailyn Leiker – Jungle Creature, Girl Hunter
Claire Myers – Jungle Creature, Circus Animal
Michaela Lane – Jungle Creature, Girl Hunter
Micah Hill – Jungle Creature, Circus Animal
Zachary Leiker – Jungle Creature, Circus Animal
Silas Hill – Jungle Creature, Circus Animal, Courtroom Attendant
Loucinda Meade – Jungle Creature, Circus Animal, Courtroom Attendant
Faith Fondoble – Student Director / Choreography
Silas Hill – Stage Crew, Props
Grace Wente – Stage Assistant / Production Assistant
Jacob Wente – Stage Assistant / Production Assistant
Anna Brull – Stage Assistant / Production Assistant
Reese Myers – Set Design Assistant / Production Assistant
Annie Wasinger – Production Assistant
Wendy Richmeier – Show Director
Amy J Staab – Music Director
Sharona Fondoble – Costume Design
Chelsie Nelson – Costume Design
Jerrett Leiker – Set Design / Build
Many, many parents – prop, set, costume collaborators!