For millions of baby boomers and their children, Dr. Suess is synonymous with fun and the adventure of discovering reading. Writer and cartoonist Theodor Seuss Geisel created an international industry with his many award-winning and bestselling illustrated children's books about madcap characters such as the Grinch, Gertrude McFuzz, the Whos of Whoville, and the Cat in the Hat - among many others.
Since Dr. Seuss died in 1991, his legacy has grown and has become a fixture in pop culture. Movies, television programs and a Broadway play keep the doctor's works alive with new audiences of all ages.
Next month, the Hinesburg Community School drama team brings the first production of "Seussical" to our area. Seuss didn't create the play - playwright and musical composer Lynn Ahrens and Steven Flaherty collaborated on the work - but it captures the magic and mayhem of the Seussian universe, where many of the laws of nature don't seem to apply.
More to the point, the HCS will present the school-version of the 2000 Broadway show titled "Seussical Junior."
The script and songbook was adapted for student performers in grades kindergarten through seventh by Ahrens and Flaherty; the duo is famous for its collaboration on Broadway's "Lucky Stiff," "My Favorite Year," "Once On This Island," and "Ragtime." There are plenty of entertaining songs that students will enjoy singing and the audience will get a kick out of it.
Shelley Henson of Hinesburg said she's thrilled to introduce parents and others to the new version of the show.
"Our play is based on the beloved characters and stories of Dr. Seuss," she said. "The musical follows the adventures of Horton, an elephant who one day hears voices coming from a speck of dust. He soon discovers that within this tiny speck exists the smallest planet in the universe. And upon this tiny planet, live a tiny race of creatures known as Whos."
Many familiar Seuss characters appear in the play.
Henson said a unique thing about the school-version of the musical is that either a boy or girl can play the Cat in the Hat and other Seuss characters.
Forty Hinesburg students will appear in the musical. The production includes volunteers from the community who are involved with building sets, creating costumes, and building props. Students from Champlain Valley Union High School add support as members of the lighting and technical crews. (The community school crew borrowed the stage lights for "Seussical" from CVU.)
School plays, especially at the HCS, are not just for parents. The public at large is invited and encouraged to attend. Residents can both enjoy a funny show and support the school's activities programs by purchasing a ticket. It's wholesome entertainment suitable for the entire family.
"Typically, our spring musical sells out both shows of 300 seats," Henson said. "The production also boasts a live pit of community musicians who began practicing last week. Tom Stamp is the director and Jessica Raymond, HCS music teacher, is the musical director, and HCS student Jeannine Bissonette helped design our poster."
So, save the dates April 3-4 for "Seussical." The curtain goes up at 7 p.m. Attendees can buy tickets at the door or purchase them in advance at either the school or Hinesburg Town Hall.