ONE FISH TWO FISH - Students at Notre Dame High School put the finishing touches on their production of Seussical the Musical during a dress rehearsal last week. The production runs from Feb. 9th to Feb. 11th at the Red Deer Memorial Centre.

Notre Dame gearing up to stage Seussical the Musical

Show runs Feb. 9th to Feb. 11th at the Red Deer Memorial Centre

École Secondaire Notre Dame High School fine arts students will be staging Seussical the Musical at the Red Deer Memorial Centre Feb. 9th to Feb. 11th at 7 p.m.

There will also be a matinee on Feb. 11th at 1 p.m.

Seussical brings some of the favourite Dr. Seuss stories and characters to life.

The Cat in the Hat tells the story of Horton who protects an abandoned egg left by Mayzie La Bird and trying to convince the jungle creatures that Whoville does exist.

The performance shows the powers of friendship, loyalty, family and community.

“It was a show produced in the early 2000s by two big Dr. Seuss fans who thought it would be great to make a musical out of it,” explained Stephanie Layden, drama instructor at Notre Dame High School. “So they took a few story lines and rehashed them into one.”

According to Wikipedia, Seussical was created by Lynn Ahrens and Stephen Flaherty based on the books of Dr. Seuss (mainly Horton Hears a Who!, Horton Hatches the Egg and Miss Gertrude McFuzz). The Grinch even has a cameo.

It made its debut on Broadway in 2000. After a Broadway run, the production spawned two U.S. tours and a UK tour. It has indeed gone on to be a much-loved classic for schools, communities and regional theatres.

“It’s framed as though this child from the real world meets Cat in the Hat, and then the Cat kind of throws the kid into the story, too,” said Layden.

There are about 32 songs featured in the production, which the students have been working on since early last October.

“I think most of the kids didn’t know the show initially, and so (it’s been great) watching them kind of fall in love with it through the process and seeing themselves in the characters because it’s very relatable,” she said. “You know Disney movies – you can watch them as an adult and get something out of them and watch them as a kid and get something out of them – but it’s a different ‘something’ depending on what age you are at?

“That’s how Seussical is – there are messages about community, family, friendships and believing in yourself. It’s really applicable for all ages,” she said, adding the show has been double cast as well which also helps to spread the roles around a bit. “Our cast numbers 32, and then we have a students’ technical theatre team of 15 and a pit band of 14 students. We also have two community guests that are joining us as well.

“Each interpretation of each role is also so different,” she said. “They see something different in the character, or they think a particular line should be delivered differently. You interpret things in a way that makes sense to you, and I think that’s what makes things so interesting.

“I also think it’s interesting to see each of the kids find their own person that they connect to in the story, and see themselves in the story – that’s really neat,” said Layden, who co-directed last year’s rendition of Mary Poppins and prior to that was at the helm for Joseph and the Amazing Technicolour Dreamcoat.

For Layden, who has been at Notre Dame for three years now, there couldn’t be a more fitting line of work.

“I think on a day-to-day basis what makes it special is seeing students flourish in a way that is different from an academic classroom,” she explained. “And really grab hold of what they are passionate about, and run with it,” she said.

“In the bigger picture of things, what inevitably makes me emotional at every show is watching their success. And seeing the audience stand at the end and applaud all of their efforts. Also, seeing the kids being recognized for their efforts and their talents, their time and their energy, and to see that be appreciated by the community,” she said.

“For me, I love to teach and I love watching the kids grow, but the cherry on the cake is having the community see it as well, and seeing the students get publicly recognized for their hard work.”

Tickets are $20 per person and children under five years of age are free. They can be purchased from the school’s main office or from any cast/crew member.

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