Chandler youth bring Seuss to stage this weekend SanTan Sun News

Chandler youth bring Seuss to stage this weekend

Chandler youth bring Seuss to stage this weekend
Arts
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By Kevin Reagan
Staff Writer

Nineteen Chandler kids are bringing the fantastical characters of Dr. Seuss to life in a new production from Chandler Youth Theater.

The Cat in the Hat, Horton the Elephant, and the Christmas-stealing Grinch all make appearances throughout Seussical JR, a musical mash-up of various stories written by the author formally known as Theodore Seuss Geisel.

The story alternates between the tiny inhabitants of Whoville and the creatures lurking about in the Jungle of Nool. Horton the Elephant is the only jungle citizen able to hear the Whos of Whoville and desperately tries to get others to believe him.

The production’s cast, consisting of local actors between 7 and 16, tells a tale full of friendship, family, and fantasy.

The musical is particularly special to Audrey Ryan, the theater’s director of productions, fondly remembers reading Seuss’ books as a child.

“I just thought they were so quirky and I really connected with them because they were so wacky,” she said.

Ryan directed the cohort of young actors. He only had 14 rehearsals to teach them all 35 musical’s songs.

“Seussical” didn’t seem like a very intimidating show on the page, Ryan said, but she quickly realized they had a lot of material to cover in a limited amount of time.

“It’s actually a beast of a musical,” she said. “It’s basically an opera.”

The kids have managed to rapidly absorb all the songs and choreography, Ryan said, and haven’t been overwhelmed by the workload.

“They’re working really hard on this production,” she said.

Seuss’ books are famous for displaying colorful landscapes of unusual-looking objects and characters.

Since the production was confined to a small stage, it couldn’t create elaborate sets matching the style of “Oh, the Places You’ll Go.”

But Ryan says they found a way to work around this by painting cardboard cutouts reflecting the look and feel of Seuss’ worlds.

“I really wanted the aesthetic of Dr. Seuss to come alive in this production,” the director said.

This is Chandler Youth Theater’s second season producing shows with local youth. The organization has previously staged productions of “The Little Mermaid, “Annie,” and “A Charlie Brown Christmas” at the ImprovMania theater in downtown Chandler.

Ryan, a recent Arizona State University graduate, said the theater is ramping up its outreach efforts this season by teaching various drama classes in the community.

“We’re trying to reach out to other venues within Chandler,” she said. “We’re working on expanding our theater… and coming up with different offerings.”

The theater will soon be partnering with local schools to put on productions of “Shrek Junior” and “The Wizard of Oz.” Ryan said they will be holding auditions on Oct. 21 for “Frozen Junior.”

Seussical will be performed at 5 p.m. today, Sept. 21 and at 2 p.m. Sunday, Sept. 22 at 250 S. Arizona Ave. Tickets are $15.

Information: ImprovMania.com.

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