Friday, January 12, 2024

Windham Middle School actors launch a new production: Seussical Jr.

By Masha Yurkevich

Maine winters can be long and dark, but if you’re looking to beat the winter depression, the Windham Middle School has prepared something for just that: the Seussical Jr. production.

The Windham Middle School production of
Seussical Jr. opens Friday, Jan. 12 and runs
through Sunday, Jan. 21 at the Windham High
School Performing Arts Center. Performance
times are 7 p.m. Fridays, 2 p.m. and 7 p.m.
Saturdays and 2 p.m. Sundays.
If you are wondering what Seussical Jr. will be like, Beth Gaudet, a show producer, sums it all up by saying: “Think of all the Dr. Seuss books mashed into a musical!”

As the producer, Gaudet is responsible for organizing everything related to the production, from getting schedules out, building the sets, to getting other parents involved in the process.

“This production is unique because it has numerous lead roles, providing ample opportunities for the kids to showcase their talent,” says Gaudet. “I am always amazed to see how the production develops from start to finish. Our director, April Monte, has a special way of working with the kids that brings out the absolute best in each and every one of them.”

For Gaudet, her favorite part of this musical is watching the fun, colorful, and happy story come to life on stage.

“The show is exceptionally entertaining with its magnificent set design and costumes,” says Gaudet.

Monte, the director, is head of the theater program at WMS and is also the choreographer, helps build set designs, works with lighting designers and sound designers, comes up with all the dancing in the show, and tells the students where to stand on stage when they’re saying their lines.

“This show is kind of crazy because everything is to music, so the children have a lot to learn when it comes to choreography,” says Monte. “It’s like Shakespeare for kids because it’s all rhymes; it’s basically Shakespeare but with Dr. Seuss lyrics. It’s been a very big challenge for the kids because the music is not easy either so they’re learning a lot but are also having a good time.”

For Monte, she has many favorite parts to the show.

“If I had to choose one, I would probably say the opening number is my favorite,” she says. “I also love the end when they all dance to Green Eggs and Ham.”

Seussical Jr. is a one-act musical comedy and is based upon the successful Broadway production written by Stephen Flaherty and Lynn Ahrens. The plot draws heavily from the stories of popular children’s author Dr. Seuss, including Gertrude McFuzz, Horton Hears A Who! and Horton Hatches the Egg among many other Seuss tales.

Annabelle Riley plays the Cat in the Hat in the WMS production and has been acting since she was 5 years old.

“This is my first lead role,” she says. “When I was cast as the Cat in the Hat, I was completely surprised. There are so many talented kids in the cast, and I am really grateful that the director chose me. Our wonderful director definitely knows what she’s doing and respects everyone in the room.”

Riley's favorite part about this musical is hearing everyone’s voices and how different they are, and seeing how all their hard work has really paid off.

All performances will be held in the Windham High School Performing Arts Center and shows start Friday, Jan. 12 and run through Sunday, Jan. 21. Performance times are 7 p.m. Fridays, 2 p.m. and 7 p.m. Saturdays, and 2 p.m. Sundays. Tickets are priced at $12 for seniors and students and $14 for adults.

Everyone is invited to see a wonderful show and leave in a great mood.

“Come see the show if you want to have a really good, fun time,” Monte said. “You’re not going to leave without a smile on your face, I can promise you that.” <

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