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posted: 6/14/2013 6:00 AM

Elmhurst native stars in 'The Cat in the Hat'

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  • Little Sally (Elmhurst native Giselle Vaughn) and her brother (Michael Richardson) lament a rainy day in Broadway in Chicago and Emerald City Theatre's production of "The Cat in the Hat."

    Little Sally (Elmhurst native Giselle Vaughn) and her brother (Michael Richardson) lament a rainy day in Broadway in Chicago and Emerald City Theatre's production of "The Cat in the Hat."
    Photo by Tom McGrath

  • Video: "Cat in the Hat" promo

By Riley Simpson

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After one performance as the Little Red Hen in "The Stinky Cheese Man," Giselle Vaughn's first experience with children's theater, a young audience member asked the Elmhurst native a question.

"Is the Little Red Hen as annoying in real life as she is in the play?"

Questions like that, coupled with the audience's jeers and boos thrown at her villainous Little Red Hen, have made Vaughn "fall in love" with children's theater.

"Kids' reactions are just so honest," said Vaughn, 24. "It's neat that they're so interested in the show."

Vaughn now stars in her second children's theater show: Dr. Seuss' "The Cat in the Hat." The production, from Broadway in Chicago and Emerald City Theatre, is moving from the Apollo Theater to the Broadway Playhouse at Water Tower Place. It will run from June 15 to Sept. 1.

Vaughn plays Little Sally, who sits at home with her brother (Michael Richardson) on a rainy day until the Cat in the Hat (Danny Taylor) bursts in to help the siblings use their imagination.

Vaughn's new audience is a little younger than with "The Stinky Cheese Man," but she still appreciates the children's "exuberant" interest.

"Sometimes the children are so loud we can't hear each other onstage," Vaughn joked.

Vaughn's favorite part of "The Cat in the Hat" comes after the play when the cast meets the kids in the audience in question-and-answer and autograph sessions.

Vaughn said the kids are usually too young and shy to ask questions of the cast, so the actors ask them about their favorite colors or what they like to do on rainy days. She sometimes asks the kids what responsibility means to them, since it's an important theme in "The Cat in the Hat."

To Vaughn, responsibility means working hard as an actor to learn her lines and blocking, an actor's staging and motions during a play.

She has been acting since she was 6, nabbing her first professional role in 2001 as Kit Kitterage in "Circle of Friends: An American Girls Musical."

"It was a big responsibility for an 11-year-old," Vaughn said.

Vaughn attended York Community High School, graduating in 2007, and Roosevelt University's Theatre Conservatory at Chicago College of Performing Arts. She majored in music theater and graduated in 2011.

"The Cat in the Hat" teaches children to use their imaginations, and Vaughn can relate.

"One of the reasons I love acting is because you can be someone else and live in a different world," she said. "And you can create that for yourself."

Vaughn said her role as Sally is fun because there's a sense of innocence in playing a child.

"When I'm having a bad day," Vaughn said, "just knowing that I'm going to perform in 'The Cat in the Hat' makes me happier because you can relieve yourself of troubles and live in a different world."

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