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A singing elephant and dancing monkey might ring-a-bell-a-phant or seem too funky, but it’s all in fun for an iconic cat, a cat in a hat, if you can imagine that.
“Seussical, Jr.” takes children’s book characters from page to stage as members of Allegro Dance Theatre in Radcliff prepare for their performance in the upcoming musical production. The play brings to life characters and stories based on works by Theodor Seuss Geisel, who wrote under the name Dr. Seuss.
“At-ti-tude,” Carol Zagar, ADT director and instructor, shouted to dancers as they rehearsed a number.
The scene involved the character Sour Kangaroo, played by 12-year-old Taylar Vann.
“Basically the Sour Kangaroo just wants to make fun of Horton,” Vann said.
Students ranging in age from 8 to 18 sang and danced as characters made famous by Dr. Seuss during rehearsal last week. On Wednesday the ensemble began a string of student performances of the musical, which features the character Horton the Elephant.
“Horton is an elephant who happens to hear better than everybody else,” Clay Franklin, 18, said.
Franklin, who portrays Horton, is in his second year with ADT.
The storyline of “Seussical, Jr.” involves Horton’s efforts to protect the character JoJo and his invisible world of Whos while also guarding an egg abandoned by the character Mayzie McBird.
“He’s a very determined hero,” Franklin said.
In some ways, he said, Horton is similar to the Cowardly Lion, who Franklin portrayed in a production of “The Wizard of Oz.” Franklin said Horton is braver, but both characters become heroes in their own way.
Portraying the ubiquitous Cat in the Hat, 14-year-old Annie DeVries imbued her role with a specific personality as directed by Zagar.
“She told me to act really weird, so I’ve been trying to go crazy,” DeVries said.
During rehearsal her movements were lively and buoyant.
“Cat in the Hat has to be bigger than life,” Zagar said.
In fact, the director said, all the characters have to be big because they are based on cartoons. She directed the students to act, sing and dance accordingly.
Scenes in which DeVries interacts with the audience are her favorite aspect of her role, she said.
Stephen Scott, 12, who portrays JoJo, is in his fourth year dancing and second year of musical theater but is in his first year with ADT. His past experience with musical theater is limited.
“This is the first time I’ve done a whole musical,” Scott said.
The cast member described his character as someone who is always “thinking outrageous thoughts.” The play’s storyline, Scott said, is actually being created in JoJo’s head.
Other Dr. Seuss characters in the musical include the Grinch Who Stole Christmas, Gertrude McFuzz, Yertle the Turtle and Cindy, Bindy and Mindy Lou Who, not to mention a cast of singing and dancing birds, monkeys, fish and Whos.
“It’s such a fun show,” Zagar said.
The musical also presents some challengers for the cast.
The high-energy nature of the Cat in the Hat character factored into the most difficult aspect cited by DeVries.
“I have to be in every scene, and the costume’s really hot, but other than that I really love it,” DeVries said.
Vann said remembering all her material was the most difficult part, but she enjoyed the experience of playing a mean character that was unlike her real personality.
The fact that Franklin is the only adult in the play wasn’t lost on him. He agreed he felt somewhat patriarchal, often aware of how tall he is.
“I guess it’s good experience for me because I want to go into teaching,” Franklin said.
Robert Villanueva can be reached at (270) 505-1743 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
Annie DeVries, Clay Franklin, Katie Bunch, Stephen Scott, Grace Greenwell, Victorya Willis, Taylar Vann, Holden Wiggins, Alexandra Whitman, Lauren Heibert, Elisabeth Vujaklija, Hannah Bunch, Tori Aikin, Amber Burkhart, Kimberly Elliot, Brigid DeVries, Taylor Boulier, Madeline Beavin, Katie Mitchell, Kaitlyn Brandenburg, Shelby Tomita, Kennedy Capan, Madison Fogle, Madison Hillberry, Makynzie Hummel, Kashaunda Murphy, Hailey Stewart, Sarah Shultis and Bethany Trotta
IF YOU GO
A public performance of “Seussical, Jr.” will be presented by Allegro Dance Theatre 7 p.m. Friday at Hardin County Schools Performing Arts Center at John Hardin High School. Tickets are $5 and available at the door. Doors open at 6:30 p.m.