Musical lets audience escape into Dr. Seuss' world

After playing small parts in two area productions of Seussical, Marc DiNicola decided to audition for the role of the Cat in the Hat in the Family Players of Northeastern New York's show.

"I just decided it was time to step up," said DiNicola, a recent graduate of Mohonasen High School.

That decision paid off, as DiNicola landed the part and has been having a great time rehearsing for the musical, which runs from July 7 to 11 at Tawasentha Park in Guilderland. A cast of nearly 70 brings to life well-known Dr. Seuss characters such Horton the Elephant, the citizens of Whoville and the Grinch. While the play has some serious moments, for the most part it's a light-hearted tale aimed at all ages.

"It's bright and very colorful," said DiNicola, who called the "music and energy" his favorite parts of the show.

The production boasts a cast of everyone from "6- to 7-year-olds to 50-year-olds," said Dave Dixon, who plays the mayor of Whoville.

Being in his mid-40s himself, Dixon was attracted to "Seussical" in part because it reminded him of growing up reading Dr. Seuss classics.

"It takes me back to my childhood," he said. "It's a chance to leave all your worries behind and escape into the world of Dr. Seuss."

In this particular world, Jojo, the son of Dixon's character, is a bit of an outcast because he "thinks too much," Dixon said. In Whoville, thinking is not an activity that's encouraged.

"We feel like we're not good parents, maybe," Dixon said.

Hoping to instill some discipline in their son, the mayor and his wife send him to military school. Jojo doesn't fit in there, either.

"He has no friends," said Connor Olney, 12, who plays Jojo. "He's alone. He's just by himself."

An Acadia Middle School student, Olney has been acting since he was in fourth grade. He draws on that experience when he's conveying Jojo's emotions.

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