Youth theater group to present 'Seussical the Musical' in Des Plaines

  • The ensemble during rehearsal of CYT Chicago Northwest Cook County's production of "Seussical the Musical, Jr."

    The ensemble during rehearsal of CYT Chicago Northwest Cook County's production of "Seussical the Musical, Jr." Courtesy of CYT Chicago Northwest Cook County

 
Submitted by Jennifer Schneider
Posted10/19/2019 7:15 AM

Join The Cat in the Hat on a whimsical journey from the Jungle of Nool, to Circus McGurkus, to the tiny land of Who as he tells of the adventures of Horton the Elephant, Mayzie La Bird, Gertrude McFuzz and other favorite characters from Dr. Seuss.

CYT Chicago's Northwest Cook County's production of "Seussical the Musical, Jr." runs Oct. 25-Nov. 3 at Prairie Lakes Theater, 515 E. Thacker St. in Des Plaines.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                       
 

"Seussical" is a musical by Lynn Ahrens and Stephen Flaherty (2000), based on the stories of Dr. Seuss, with most of its plot centering around the children's book "Horton Hears a Who!" while also incorporating many additional characters.

Famous Seussian fun-seeker The Cat in the Hat narrates the story of Horton the Elephant, who discovers a speck of dust containing tiny people called the Whos.

"Horton is a fun-loving guy," says Steven Moerschel, who plays Horton the Elephant. "He's the kindest person you'll ever meet, the definition of a gentle giant. He will touch your heart."

Horton discovers that he must protect the Whos from a world of naysayers and dangers, and he must do so while also guarding an abandoned egg that's been left in his care by the irresponsible Mayzie La Bird.

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"Horton teaches us great determination as he stands up for what he believes in," says the show's director, Amanda Schmidt. "He also shows love and support to the Whos even though none of his friends believe they exist."

The CYT Chicago Northwest Cook County directing team of "Seussical the Musical, Jr." includes, from left, Kristi Wright, Sophie Murk, Amanda Schmidt, Emma Faith and Hope Reed.
The CYT Chicago Northwest Cook County directing team of "Seussical the Musical, Jr." includes, from left, Kristi Wright, Sophie Murk, Amanda Schmidt, Emma Faith and Hope Reed. - Courtesy of CYT Chicago Northwest Cook County

Schmidt is making her CYT Chicago directorial debut with "Seussical." She has previously been a student performer, as well as an assistant director and choreographer for CYT.

"This is my 11th show as a part of a directing team, which is the same number of shows I performed in as a student," Schmidt said. "I'm very excited for this show, and have been loving the process. I could not think of a more perfect show in a more perfect county for my first directing experience."

                                                                                                                                                                                                                       
 

Although Horton faces ridicule, danger and a trial, the intrepid Gertrude McFuzz never loses faith in him, showing her support through song and strong action.

"I have always liked Gertrude's character -- her message of self-acceptance and the way she cares for others speaks to my soul," says Schmidt.

"She teaches us about patience and compassion. She shows us how to unconditionally love and support others. Her determination, persistence, kindness and understanding are what make her truly stand out."

"Seussical" is set in a fantastical place with whimsical creatures, and yet audiences will find they can relate to the characters and the situations they find themselves in.

From left, Malachi Hang and Zel Walton have fun at a rehearsal for "Seussical the Musical, Jr."
From left, Malachi Hang and Zel Walton have fun at a rehearsal for "Seussical the Musical, Jr." - Courtesy of CYT Chicago Northwest Cook County

"'Seussical' is such an experience, without all the drama of real life," says Moerschel. "Anyone can relate to this story."

Whether it's Horton who stands up for what he believes in; Jojo, who is unashamed to be his own creative self; or the Sour Kangaroo who teaches us to not judge a book by its cover, the characters hope to connect with the underlying message -- love.

Jackson Clark and Jeri-Ann Day share a hug during rehearsal of "Seussical the Musical, Jr." with CYT Chicago Northwest Cook County.
Jackson Clark and Jeri-Ann Day share a hug during rehearsal of "Seussical the Musical, Jr." with CYT Chicago Northwest Cook County. - Courtesy of CYT Chicago Northwest Cook County

"I hope the audience walks away feeling a sense of love," says Schmidt. "Love from the students giving their all on the stage, the love this community has shown me in my first directing role, and the love from the message of our show: Horton's love and acceptance for the Whos."

As always, the story is supported by songs and choreography. Moerschel's favorite song is called "Solla Sollew," a ballad about a mystical place where there are no troubles -- breezes are warm, people are kind, and it is something like heaven.

"It's a slow song," says Moerschel. "It gives you time to consider what Solla Sollew is for you."

Tickets are $15 presale and $2 additional at the door, with group, child and senior prices available. Visit www.cytchicago.org and click on "Shows" or call (847) 516-2298 to purchase tickets. The Prairie Lakes Theater seats only 300, so shows sell out very quickly. Call the box office for handicapped accessible seating.

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CYT Chicago Northwest Cook County's production of "Seussical the Musical, Jr."

When: Peformances are 9:30 and 11:45 a.m. Thursday, Oct. 24, and Wednesday, Oct. 30; 7 p.m. Friday, Oct. 25, and Nov. 1; 2 and 6 p.m. Saturday, Oct. 26, and Nov. 2; 2 p.m. Sunday, Oct. 27, and Nov. 3

Where: Prairie Lakes Community Center, 515 E. Thacker St., Des Plaines

Tickets: $13-$15 presale; $2 additional at the door. Child and senior prices and school field trip ticketing available.

Details: (847) 516-2298 or www.cytchicago.org

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