2015, july, ThisWeek, ThisWeekNews, westerville

Silliness, songs of Dr. Seuss coming to stage


View it online at ThisWeekNews.com

Thursday July 16, 2015 9:23 AM

Photo courtesy of Debbie Gillum 

Tickets are on sale for the Westerville Parks and Recreation Department and Otterbein University’sfantastical, zany production of Seussical.
The musical will be performed at 7 p.m. July 30, 31 and Aug. 1 and at 2 p.m. Aug. 2 at Westerville Central High School, 7118 Mount Royal Ave.
For the past three years, the parks department has offered an eight-week class in which anyone can participate in summer musicals such as The Wizard of Oz or The Music Man.
In Seussical, The Cat in the Hat tells the story of Horton, an elephant who discovers a speck of dust containing Whos, whom he must protect.
Although Horton faces ridicule, danger, kidnapping and a trial, his friend, Gertrude McFuzz, never loses faith in him.
Ultimately, the powers of friendship, loyalty, family and community are challenged and emerge triumphant.
Co-director Matthew Wolfe said the musical is a “wonderful nod to the amazing stories of Dr. Seuss.”
“You’ll definitely recognize the stories and the lyrics,” he said. “Some of the songs even have the same words straight from the book.”
He said the musical is fun for all ages and a good starter play for parents wanting to introduce children to theater.
Auditions were held May 9 and the musical features a cast of 98 actors ranging from ages 6 to 68. There is also a full 27-member pit orchestra and about 20 people are helping backstage.
Co-director Luke Bovenizer said most of the children under 12 play citizens of Whoville.
“It’s great to see multi-generations come together and interact with each other,” he said. “I look forward to this play because everyone has such a unique energy that helps better tell the story.”
Jacob Williams, 19, plays Horton. He said Seussical is a better musical than people give it credit for.
“It’s not just a cheesy kid’s show. The music is really beautiful,” he said.
Williams, a 2014 Westerville South High School graduate, said the children in the show address him as Horton and have given him pictures of elephants they’ve drawn.
One of the younger actors, Margaux Guerin, 9, stars as JoJo, the daughter of the Mayor of Whoville.
Guerin described JoJo as having a crazy imagination and not caring what people think of her.
“She gets to do whatever she wants, even when people tell her she shouldn’t have such an active imagination,” Guerin said. “I like to use my imagination a lot, too, so I could relate to JoJo.”
Mark Schuliger, 51, said he enjoys playing the famous Cat in the Hat because he gets to be over the top.
“I like entertaining the kids and playing so many different characters,” he said. “During rehearsals, I can play to the kids and see what makes them laugh.”
The Cat in the Hat acts as a mentor to JoJo throughout the play and plays a bailiff, pool boy, doctor, piano player and more. The role allows for a lot of ad-libbing, which Schuliger enjoys.
“I wasn’t even going to audition, but I’m so glad I did,” he said. “Everyone writes off this musical but it has such great music.”
Karla Kruse, 36, who starred previously in The Music Man, plays Gertrude McFuzz.
“It’s a lot of fun to let out all your weird and quirkiness for everyone to see,” she said. “I love working with the kids. We really learn from each other.”
Tickets are $10 and can be purchased in advance at the Westerville Community Center, 350 N. Cleveland Ave. If available, they also will be sold at the door one hour prior to the performance.

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