By Sue Suchyta
The Players Guild of Dearborn announced the cast for Lynn Aherns and Stephens Flaherty’s “Seussical the Musical” last week, the closing show of the group’s 88th season.
Directed by Valerie Haas of Inkster, with musical direction by Paul Abbott of Livonia and choreography by Janeen Bodary of Dearborn Heights, the show runs 8 p.m. April 29 and 30, and May 6, 7, 13, 14, 20 and 21, and 2:30 p.m. May 1, 8, 15 and 22 at the theater, 21730 Madison in Dearborn.
Tickets are $20, with a $2 student discount. For tickets or more information, call 313-561-TKTS or go to playersguildofdearborn.org.
Based on stories by Dr. Seuss, and narrated by the Cat in the Hat, audiences encounter Horton the Elephant, the Whos, Mayzie LaBird, Gertrude McFuzz and many colorful characters who ultimately reveal the value of friendship, loyalty and community through fast-paced and upbeat adventures.
Leading the cast is John Denyer of Dearborn as the Cat in the Hat, with Ron Williams Jr. of Redford Township as Horton the Elephant and Jamie Paschke of Dearborn Heights as JoJo.
Other Dearborn residents playing leads include Meg Kisch as Gertrude McFuzz, Samantha York as Mayzie LaBird and Rebecca Hermen as the Sour Kangeroo.
Christina Bertucci of Dearborn plays the Young Kangeroo (“Roo”), with Amanda Chatila of Dearborn Heights, Kayla Chavez of Allen Park and Juliette Abbott of Livonia as the Bird Girls.
Ben Apostle of Dearborn, Josh Lisiecki of Warren, and Mark Wagner of Plymouth play the Wickersham Brothers.
Phil Booth of Dearborn plays Yertle the Turtle, with Jake Dombrowski of Westland as Vlad Vladikoff, Tim Carney of Livonia as the Whoville Mayor, and Diane Cliff of Dearborn as the Mayor’s wife.
Vincent Hanchon of Detroit plays General Genghis Khan Schmitz, with Tom Sparrow of Allen Park as the Grinch.
The ensemble, who play Whos, jungle animals, Hunches, circus performers and fish include Dearborn residents Nathan Wall, Adriana Viscomi, Lexie Kaplan, Garrett Hermen, Matthias Hermen, Olivia Kirk and Ashley Youngheim; Rebekah Preiss of Dearborn Heights; Scott Rider of Lincoln Park; and Deb Kales of Detroit.
Williams said “Seussical” appeals to people of all ages, with the cartoonish nature of the show appealing to children and with adults remembering childhood stories.
“At one point or another, our audience sat on someone’s lap while they read them the story of ‘Horton Hears a Who,’” Williams said. “The overall theme is to just help your neighbor. In this current political climate, it seems fitting to be producing such a simple show with such a universal message.”
Kisch said although the show is silly and fun, audiences can relate to the characters and learn from them.
She said her character, Gertrude, teaches others to embrace their flaws.
“We can all relate to and learn from the characters,” Kisch said. “Kids will love the music and the rhymes, but the adults will love it for the humor and its messages.”
York, who describes her character of Mayzie as energetic and charismatic, said adults will appreciate the sarcasm and adult humor that will go over the children’s heads, while the music, costumes, choreography and set will appeal to all ages.
She said the main theme of “Seussical” is to let people be true to themselves.
“Let people shine and grow into who they want to be,” York said. “Don’t follow the status quo because change is difficult for someone else. We are all unique and different, and that should be celebrated.”
Paschke said her character, JoJo, is viewed differently because he is a thinker, and is not afraid to stand out and be himself.
“If you really, truly believe in something and set your mind on it, don’t let anyone break your spirit or bring you down,” Paschke said, “because there is always someone who is going through the same scenario or feels the same way.”
Paschke said the show’s characters are unique, as well as funny, lovable and relatable, and reinforce the message that one should not be afraid to be different.
Rebecca Hermen, a librarian, she said that Seuss stories have always been more than simple children’s literature.
“The Lorax talks about environmentalism, the Butter Battle Book is against nuclear proliferation, (and) the Sneeches fought racism,” Hermen said. “’Seussical’ has these, along with 16 other Seuss stories, as well as unrequited love, parental responsibility, (and) positive body image.”
She said it is definitely not just a children’s show.
“The appeal to adults is seeing a lot of your favorite Seuss characters come to life and woven into a common story,” Hermen said. “The music is really lively and covers a number of different styles.”
She said the message that repeats throughout the show is that people need to care for one another no matter how different they may seem, because “a person’s a person, no matter how small.”
SCP PRESENTS ‘JAMES AND THE GIANT PEACH’
Southgate Community Players Young People’s Theatre presents “James and the Giant Peach” at 7 p.m. April 1, 2, 8 and 9 at the Corner Playhouse, 12671 Dix Toledo Road in Southgate.
When James escapes from his terrible guardian aunts, he befriends humanlike bugs who live inside a giant peach. The bugs then take James on an amazing journey.
Tickets are $8. For more information, call 734-282-4727 or go to scponstage.com.
WSU STUDIO THEATRE PRESENTS ‘CRUMBLE (LAY ME DOWN, JUSTIN TIMBERLAKE)’
Wayne State University’s Studio Theater presents Sheila Callaghan’s “Crumble (Lay Me Down, Justin Timberlake)” at 7 p.m. March 31, 8 p.m. April 1, 2, 7, 8 and 9, and 2 p.m. April 3 in the lower level of Hilberry, 4841 Cass in Detroit.
Set at Christmas time, a year has passed since Janice’s father has died, and she and her mother are struggling to cope. Janice holds spiteful conversations with her dolls, while her mother bakes amid panic attacks.
In their crumbling apartment, they comfort themselves with visits from their celebrity crushes – Justin Timberlake and Harrison Ford – while the Apartment develops deadly plans for their demise.
Directed by James Thomas, the cast includes Katie Akers as Janice, Stephanie Stoiko as Mother, Pierce King as Justin Timberlake and Harrison Ford, Joe Gaskill as the Apartment and Madison Hamm as Barbara.
Tickets are $10. To order, call 313-571-2972 or go to theatreanddance.wayne.edu.