Dr. Seuss takes to stagePublished 1:46pm Thursday, November 7, 2013
Lowell Carpenter has directed school plays for more than 30 years. The feelings before opening night always seem to be the same.
“Directors would always like to be farther along than they are,” he said. “But amazing things happen in a short period of time when they have to.”
The curtain is close to coming up for the cast and crew of this fall’s Fergus Falls High School play, “Seussical.” Opening night is Saturday and the cast had its first dress rehearsal Wednesday.
“Seussical” tells the story of Horton, an elephant who begins to hear the voices of the Whos, microscopic beings who live in a clover. The story is narrated by iconic Dr. Seuss character, The Cat in the Hat and is a fast-paced, sometimes complex mashup of many Seuss classics.
Nathan Kaminski landed the lead role of Horton during the early September auditions. He is a veteran of musical theater, appearing in productions since he was in fifth grade. He was naturally drawn to this play because of the amount of singing, but also on the strength of the character.
“He’s content with his life and knowing that he’s right gets him through each day no matter how much people make fun of him,” Kaminski said of Horton.
For Carpenter, the biggest struggle, save for never having enough time, was finding performers who could handle the musical load. The Broadway production of “Seussical” has 30 songs and the school’s version kept 25.
The plot is told almost exclusively through song,. The songs must be clear and well-done in order for the audience to keep track of the story.
Carpenter has been pleased with his cast’s ability to handle the music.
“We do have an incredible amount of talented performers in our school,” he said.
One performer without previous musical experience is Allyson Godel, who will be playing The Cat in the Hat. Godel said she grew up a devoted fan of Dr. Seuss books, finding joy in the imagination and creativity in the works.
Godel has relied on her more experienced castmates to help her with the songs, but she also said she does not want to get too caught up in her technical performance.
“How I sing is how I think The Cat sings,” she said.
Over 50 students are involved in the production in a variety of onstage, backstage and musical roles. The play calls for a 15-piece orchestra and getting them synched up with the actors was another of Carpenter’s main struggles.
After a few dress rehearsals, the cast will perform snippets of the play for students from Cleveland and McKinley Schools Friday, as well as for fellow high school students, the idea being this will get the kids to want to see the entire play, according to Carpenter.
Both Kaminski and Godel expressed some nerves heading into the show, but both think the cast will put on an outstanding show. The same goes for technical director Ethan Johnson, in charge of the lighting, props, sets and a variety of other things for the show.
“It doesn’t matter how prepared you are, it always feels like a disaster waiting to happen,” said Johnson, who has worked on four plays at the school. “But somehow it all works out.”
Tickets for “Seussical” are $6 for adults and $4 for students and will be available at the door for each performance.