Theatergoers packed the Orange Park Community Theater on Sunday, September 16e for a catchy interpretation of Seussical the musical, the first production of the 49e season. Whimsical and entertaining, Seussical inspired a heartfelt ovation and lifted the spirits of young and old alike.
Directed by Sara Green, the musical runs from August 31 to September 30. The show features local talent and took around 2.5 months of dedicated work to prepare for the opening. “This show got me excited,” says Green, “It’s such a fabulous bunch of people to work with and I love them.”
Seussical the musical is a magical tale written by Stephan Flaherty and Lynn Ahrens, combining the best of Dr. Seuss’ stories and characters into one hilarious musical masterpiece. The Cat in the Hat charismatically tells the story of Horton the Elephant, who discovers an invisible world on a speck of dust and places it on a clover to protect it. This microscopic world is home to Whoville. Among the residents are the mayor, his wife and their young son, JoJo. JoJo has a problem. He thinks too much. This causes problems with his teacher and his parents and the young boy finds himself sent to a military academy in the care of the enigmatic General Schmitz.
Good-hearted Horton must fight to keep Whoville safe. He faces many threats, including Sour Kanga and the Wickersham Ensemble. Mockery, kidnapping, going to the circus, and even a trial that condemns him to insane criminal asylum threaten to end Horton’s quest. But he refuses to give up, fighting fiercely for those who are too small to protect themselves and desperately trying to convince his opponents that something wonderful can exist even if they cannot see it with their own eyes, refraining over and over again: “A person is a person, no matter how small. “
In the end, Whoville is saved by the smallest of them all. It’s up to young JoJo to think outside the box and make his people heard or face certain death. Horton and JoJo are both redeemed, and the power of friendship, acceptance, family, faith and community reigns supreme.
Multigenerational and local distribution makes this musical raw and compelling. You just can’t help but stand up and applaud the hard work, passion and determination that went into its production.
Horton the lovable pachyderm is played by Craig Wickless. JoJo was played by Alexander White during Sunday’s performance.
Although the script largely follows the plot of the Seuss classic Horton hears one who, many unexpected guests arrive along the way.
Irresponsible party girl Mayzie La Bird causes drama and discord, leaving Horton to watch over her unwanted egg while she pilots the chicken coop on a sunny vacation. Mayzie is played by Denise Fernandez, who has performed in community and professional theater productions in New Jersey and New York. This is his second exhibition at the OPCT.
Gertrude McFuzz adds a comedic love story to the plot. Played by Morgan Perry, Gertrude embarks on a doomed but hilarious quest for a bigger and better cock in an effort to get Horton’s attention. This is Perry’s first performance at the OPCT.
The Grinch Who Stole Christmas makes several appearances. Even Thing One and Thing Two get involved in the mix. Yet the undisputed star of the show is the charming Cat in a Hat himself, played by local actor Eric Yarham. He appeared in Floyd collins, A new brain, and City of Angels.
Seussical the musical is brave and hilarious. This battle of the outsiders will engage and delight the whole family. With musical direction by Michelle Munley and choreography by Jodie Jernigan, the production will have you dancing in your seat. It’s great for young and old alike.
Performances will continue on Friday / Saturday (8 p.m.) and Sunday (3 p.m.) at the Orange Park Community Theater until September 23rd, followed by two benefit performances at the Preparatory Academy of San Jose in Mandarin from September 29 to 30 (Saturday 8 p.m., Sunday 3 p.m.). General reservations are $ 25 and the student price is available ($ 10). Green encourages the Ne Floridians to go out and see what their community theater has to offer, “I fell in love with the theater because my parents brought me.”
It might be small and cozy, but the Orange Park Community Theater has a lot to offer. The community is invited to participate in the next series of performances Game changer: women through the history of music From October 5 to 7, a scary thriller titled The unwanted (p.-13) from October 19 to November 4, or Miracle on 34e Street this december. Student workshops are also available for students interested in musical theater.
The OPCT is located at 2900 Moody Road in Orange Park. For more information, see the OPCT website or the FB page.