Whimsical lunacy takes center stage in ‘Seussical’

by Dennis Dalman


The whimsical lunacy of the fabulous Dr. Seuss is unleashed full force in the play, Seussical the Musical Jr., a play to be performed for three shows starting Feb. 27-March 1 at Sartell High School.

The production is the annual joint theater venture by the SMS seventh- and eighth-graders, with help from some high school students.

Show times are 7 p.m. Thursday, Feb. 27; 7 p.m. Friday, Feb. 28; and 2 p.m. Saturday, March 1. Tickets are $5 for adults and $3 for students and children.

The colorful, tuneful show boasts the largest cast in the history of plays at SMS. There are 55 on-stage performances, 42 crew members and six Sartell High School student coaches. Seussical Jr. is directed by theater-arts instructor Rick Cicharz. The play’s musical director is Kirstin Welz; choreographer is Luke Anderson; costumes/props are by Pat Cicharz; production manager/set designer is Tracy Watkin; publicity manager/acting coach is Jeff Anderson; painting designer is Erin Nordmark and painting assistant is Liz Inveiss.

Seussical The Musical, which debuted on Broadway in 2000, was written by Lynn Ahrens and Stephen Flaherty. The “Jr.” in the title of the SMS production means the production has been abridged, with permission of its authors, from a full-fledged Broadway production to a one-act show.

The characters and plot of the musical are a combination of many of Dr. Seuss’s well-loved books. The entire phantasmagoria is conjured up on stage by The Cat in the Hat, who takes the audience on a journey from the Jungle of Nool to the Circus McGurkus. The Cat tells the story of Horton the Elephant, who is determined to protect the tiny people of Who-ville, who live on a single speck of dust. One of the Who-ville residents is Jojo, a child who gets into trouble for thinking too many “thinks.” Horton has a tough task because, besides protecting the people of Who-ville, he must also nurture an abandoned egg that’s been left for his care by Mayzie LaBird.

Horton faces many crises that include ridicule, dangers, kidnapping and even a trial. However, through all of his challenges, Gertrude McFuzz, his neighbor, stands steadfast by him and even begins to fall in love with him. Will friendship, loyalty, family and community win out over the chaos? Well, theater-goers will have to find out for themselves.

Among the Dr. Seuss books that figure in Seussical the Musical Jr. are Horton Hears a Who!, Did I Ever Tell You How Lucky You Are?, One Fish Two Fish Red Fish Blue Fish, The Cat in the Hat, If I Ran the Circus, McElliot’s Pool, Green Ham and Eggs, Yertle the Turtle and Other Stories, I Had Trouble in Getting Solla Sollew, and Oh, the Thinks You Can Think!

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Sartell Middle School students practice physical movements and singing during a rehearsal for “Seussical the Musical Jr.,” the upcoming annual SMS theater production. The tuneful show is based on the books of famed children’s author, Dr. Seuss.

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Josh Engelkes (Mr. Mayor, left), Alex Gilbert (JoJo) and Gillian Orth (Mrs. Mayor) rehearse a scene from the upcoming Sartell Middle School musical, “Seussical the Musical Jr.”

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Emma Boenish (Young Kangeroo, left) and Elana Johnson (Sour Kangaroo) point during a rehearsal for the upcoming Sartell Middle School musical, “Seussical the Musical Jr.”

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Peyton Braun (Horton) and Emma Gunderson (Gertrude) rehearse a scene from the upcoming Sartell Middle School musical, “Seussical the Musical Jr.”

Dennis Dalman

Dennis Dalman


Dalman was born and raised in South St. Cloud, graduated from St. Cloud Tech High School, then graduated from St. Cloud State University with a degree in English (emphasis on American and British literature) and mass communications (emphasis on print journalism). He studied in London, England for a year (1980-81) where he concentrated on British literature, political science, the history of Great Britain and wrote a book-length study of the British writer V.S. Naipaul. Dalman has been a reporter and weekly columnist for more than 30 years and worked for 16 of those years for the Alexandria Echo Press.
Dennis Dalman

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