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Tigard High stages musical tribute to Dr. Seuss

by: Jaime Valdez "Seussical" features senior C.J. Irving as Cat in the Hat, junior Nicholas White as Horton the Elephant and freshman Jezeth Zaragoza as Jojo.

Things are getting a bit whimsical at Tigard High School.

The school is knee-deep in production of the Broadway musical 'Seussical,' which premieres May 3.

The play has become a popular choice for district productions recently, with performances by Tualatin High School in November and previous productions at Fowler Middle School.

Despite its recent popularity at other local schools, choosing the Dr. Seuss-inspired play was a no brainer, said musical director Todd Hermanson.

'I had seen it years ago and thought it was just delightful,' Hermanson said. 'I thought it was a great opportunity for the kids, and I love to do children's theater. I had been thinking about doing this for five or six years.'

The play may be a great fit, but it comes with a hefty price-tag.

Hermanson said the play will likely cost the theater department about $16,000. That's about four times as much as it cost to put on the department's last play, 'Almost, Maine,' in the fall.

Hermanson said the department gets some financial help from the district to pay for its productions, but the majority of the play's budget comes from ticket sales.

In a time when school theater departments across the country are finding budgets slashed, student crewmember Mica Hollingsworth said the production is a good way to show the community how important programs like theater and the arts are to kids.

'There are so many lessons that you can learn in theater if you are willing to listen,' she said. 'Theater students will tell you that everyone is accepted here. More so than you'll find in any other group.'

Fellow 'Seussical' cast member Bobi Whitehead agreed with the sentiment.

'We can prove that we can take on this big musical and conquer anything,' said Whitehead, who plays Gertrude McFuzz in 'Seussical.'

Hollingsworth, who performed in 'Seussical' as a student at Fowler, said the play's recent popularity is because the message of the play is one everyone can relate to. 'This show is so intriguing because it introduces kids to these morals, but it also has aspects that adults and older audiences can take in as well.'

The play is a family-friendly venture that tells the story of several of Dr. Seuss' most famous books, including 'The Cat in the Hat,' 'Horton Hears a Who,' 'How the Grinch Stole Christmas' and 'Green Eggs and Ham.'

'This play is very children centered,' Whitehead said. 'It'll be great to see all the kids in the audience reacting to everything. That's what's really cool about 'Seussical.''

Hollingsworth - who serves as the production's stage manager, running things backstage during performances - said the show has a strong message that resonates with audiences as well as the cast and crew.

'When I started, I wasn't really into theater that much back then (in middle school), but this show has been the show that made me love theater. There's a song called 'It's possible' that has one of the characters open his mind to everything, and it is really inspirational.'

Hermanson's goal is to have at least one of the musical's seven shows sell out of seats.

'I have never sold out a performance in the 14 years that I've been here,' Hermanson said. 'But that would be nice, and I think the show deserves it. The kids have worked so hard.'

That's a goal Whitehead could see coming true. 'I think that's very possible. Anything is possible. That's the message of the show.'

'Seussical' opens at the Deb Fennel auditorium at Tigard High School on May 3.




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