The largest musical that Union Middle School has ever performed will take place Jan. 29-31 and Feb. 1, as 127 cast members and 35 crew members put on “Seussical, Jr.”
“This is the largest extra-curricular activity at Union, and the students just have a blast,” director and choreographer Bryan Stephenson said. “We have a lot of student talent and a lot of parent support. It becomes a community event.”
The doors will open at 6:30 p.m. for the 7 p.m. shows. Stephenson said to arrive early and to keep the walkways clear as actors and set pieces use the aisles. Tickets are $2 and can be purchased in advance in the school office or at the auditorium door, 615 East 8000 South.
The show will feature eighth-grader Carsen Geisler as the Cat in the Hat who narrates the show, seventh-grader Jouri LaCome as Jo Jo, seventh-grader Kyle Snowder as Horton the Elephant, seventh-grader Kate Timmerman as Gertrude and seventh-grader Grace Zito as Mayzie. The assistant director and music director is David Christensen.
“‘Seussical’ is a show where imagination sets kids apart from adults and lends itself well to a middle school stage. Plus, it can be performed with a large cast,” Stephenson said.
The show is a mixture of Dr. Seuss books. In the story, The Cat in the Hat tells the story of Horton, an elephant who discovers a speck of dust containing Whos, including Jojo, a Who child who gets in trouble for thinking too many “thinks.” Horton knows he must protect the Whos from a world of dangers, but he also must guard an abandoned egg, left to his care by the irresponsible Mayzie. Through the show, Horton shows how friendship, loyalty, family and community are important.
Cast members, who have been practicing since September, are involved in at least four different ensembles. The stage crew began practicing in January.
More than 40 parents helped construct 12 Dr. Seuss books that will be included in the set, including “Horton Hears A Who,” which is Stephenson’s favorite Dr. Seuss book.
“We talked about it’s where everyone has a voice and ‘a person is a person, no matter how small,’” he said, adding that other parents have assisted with costumes and props.
Students raised about $15,000 by selling program ads, and that money was put into the sound and light system to increase the quality of the production, Stephenson said.
“We’ve put in a lot of time and effort into the show and it’s a great middle school show. It’s been fun and the kids are developing friendships as they work hard,” he said, adding that he still maintains some friendships he forged in middle school theater.
During each evening, there will be a live auction and an opportunity to donate to the musical theater program.