Who can resist Dr. Seuss and his offbeat, surprising humor? How often can you see an original high school production? How likely is it that a student performs despite disabilities?
Holly McNeill, drama director and teacher of acting at South Elgin High School, was inspired by a dance version of Dr. Seuss's children's book, "The Lorax," directed many years ago by Melanie Meidel, now SEHS principal, when they were both teachers at Larkin High School.
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McNeill studied Seuss' book, and she researched a 1972 CBS special, the recent animated feature, and a Reader's Theatre version to come up with a rough draft. Then she worked with her cast to finish it, drawing on their creativity and vision. With the help of a costume designer the cast members even created their own costumes, using, according to McNeill, "95 percent recycled, reused, re-purposed items."
Thus the conservation theme of the story has been a key part of production itself. McNeill observes.
"The message has always been to be conscious of how much you throw away and how much you recycle," she said. "My students have had such fun going to thrift stores buying used items and incorporating them into their costumes."
In all of her research, McNeill never found a play script, so this may be the first- time world premiere of "The Lorax" as a play.
Unique as this production is, the student playing the Lorax adds still another dimension. Sophomore Alex Greiff suffers from autism and a severe pulmonary condition.
"His charisma is contagious, and he endears everyone to him by his positive and hardworking persona," McNeill said.
This is not the first time onstage for Greiff, who has performed in community theater productions.
Performances are set for 7 p.m. Thursday, Friday and Saturday, Oct. 25-27, with an additional 2 p.m. matinee Saturday, in the South Elgin High School auditorium, 760 East Main St.
Tickets are $8 for adults and $6 for students and seniors. There is a $1 discount for anyone bringing a recyclable item.
For details, call (847) 289-3760.