Source: Sherman Publications

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Seuss was alive and well in Orion

April 20, 2011

By Olivia Shumaker

Special Writer for The Review

A tall red and white striped hat perched alone, under a single spotlight, in the center of a darkened stage, greeted viewers as they entered the auditorium. Under this hat, when the theater lights dropped, appeared Dr. Seuss' the Cat in the Hat, conversing with JoJo, one of the leads in the tale, about all the "thinks" you can think when you think about Seuss. Thusly, Seussical the Musical, Lake Orion High School's spring production, began.

"An unusual story will soon be unfurled," said senior August Lile's omnipresent the Cat in the Hat. The story of Seussical actually began in the first week of January, when students returned from winter break and started to prepare.

"Horton the Elephant meets the Who's on the clover, meanwhile his neighbor is in love with him," said teacher director Leann Lowe. In all, Seussical is a gathering of 17 Seuss tales told with 31 songs, brought to life by a student cast of more than 70. Compared to other high school productions, Seussical is enormous.

Seussical was put on by Lake Orion High School's Thespian Troupe 2898, which is part of an international Thespians society. Students must earn ten points to be inducted into the society, with ten hours per point.

"The reason I'm in Thespian Society is because I can be myself onstage," said senior Rawley Van Fossen, who played the Lorax.

While some professionals were hired to help coordinate the show, including music director Megan Smith, choreographer Sarah Michener, and costumer Emily Olson, the majority of the show was student run. Scenery was made by students, costume input was given by the cast, and some choreography was done by students.

"We've all pretty much been designing each others' costumes," said junior and Thespian officer Alexis Apinoto, who played Mayzie LaBird.

With endless feathers, sparkle, several pounds of makeup, and assorted brightly colored costume items never to be seen together under any other circumstances, Seussical took off with a bang. The story opens with Horton the Elephant, played by Shane Snider, rescuing the Who's by placing the speck of dust on which their world exists on a clover and being mocked by all other creatures as the, "Biggest blame fool in the Jungle of Nool."

In the process of creating the production, the cast had a great deal of thinking to do them selves. Since Seussical is a musical, the cast had to go through voice lessons and choreography. Besides memorizing over two hours worth of lines, the cast also had to memorize the words to 31 songs, along with the choreography to each individual song and the learn the dynamic of numerous scene changes throughout the two acts. Seussical is the largest production the Lake Orion Thespians have put on yet.

Seussical, since it became available to schools to produce, is now one of the musicals most produced in the school setting, despite financial failure on Broadway. It cost the Thespians nearly $5,000 in royalties to produce the musical, and around $5,000 in costumes, among other expenses. However, the Thespian Troupe is entirely self-funded, in part by Wednesday pizza sales at school.