Oh, the places you'll act

BC students bring Dr. Seuss to life on stage

If there's one author that's somehow managed to work his way into the hearts and imaginations of the young and the old, the dreamers and the down-to-earth, it would be Dr. Seuss.

His weaving of language, art and good old-fashioned words to live by continue to be a cultural touchstone. Now, at Bethlehem Central High School, those works are jumping off the page and onto the stage as a cast of students tirelessly rehearse for Seussical the Musical, showing later this month.

"Seussical," as one might gather, is based on the works of Dr. Seuss, drawing heavily from "Horton Hears a Who" but incorporating elements of many other books. The play largely centers on Jojo, a child whose imagination is running out of control. This, along with the whimsical nature of Seuss' work, sets a flamboyant atmosphere.

"It's not very serious; it's just a big ball of fun," said junior Mary Allendorph, who is playing Jojo.

The play did not do well on Broadway, but it has since been reworked and is becoming quite a hit in school theater programs across the country. At BC, Director James Yeara has modified things to include a cast of 66.

"We've had to work to stage it so we can use all 66," he said. "It's tough, but it's rewarding."

There are also dozens of students in the crew and involved in making the set.

Last year, students performed the musical "Once on This Island," written by the same team that crafted the work of Seuss for the stage. Yeara has also directed Shakespeare performances for years.

"Seussical" bucks many theatrical conventions, though, bringing in audience participation and improvisation. In fact, two contests will be held during intermission: a "Seuss-off" in which audience members can recite their favorite Seuss passage and a costume contest for the best-dressed Seuss character in the audience.

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