Egyptian set to open "Seussical the Musical" this weekend
This December, the Egyptian Theatre Company will offer a production with a dazzling array of color and some familiar characters.
"Seussical the Musical" will open this Friday at the Egyptian Theatre and play through Dec. 31, offering a theatrical adaptation of Dr. Seuss’s iconic picture books. In keeping with the spirit of the holiday season, the production is a family-friendly one, eschewing the Egyptian’s racier fare.
"It plays well for the whole family and when you want to do something with the whole family," said actor and Kenneth Wayne, who will play Horton the Elephant.
With words in verse and nearly non-stop songs, "Seussical" follows the basic plotline of "Horton Hears a Who!" while at the same time incorporating other characters, settings and scenes from Seuss’s myriad other works.
In the hands of the Egyptian Theatre Company and director Jim Christian, who has previously directed both "Beehive" and "Pageant" for the theatre, "Seussical" comes alive with a plucky cast of cartoons portrayed by a cast of 29 actors.
"It’s like Dr. Seuss wrote his books," said Christian.
The play is funny, he noted, but still contains its lessons. At the same time, he noted the razor-sharp rhymes and one other thing the production shares with the books. Cast members echoed his sentiments.
"I think the best thing is the lessons that are in it; that’s the best part of it," said Victoria Nones, who plays a flamboyant bird, Amazing Mayzie, in the play.
"Seuss likes the smart and the heart," Christian said.
Christian added that he should know. By the time he was six, he said, he, "had read every Dr. Seuss book in the Murray Public Library."
So, working with that knowledge, he has produced a show mindful of the books, but at the same time, the "Seussical" story remains at the forefront, allowing a viewer to focus upon it.
"I have to just brag about Jim," said Wayne, "the way he just envisions the actors Jim has just truly made some wonderful pictures."
Wayne also noted that Christian has done his work in a relatively short time. The cast went into rehearsals just about three weeks ago, on Oct. 31, giving the cast and crew a relatively compact timeline.
"That’s fast," said Wayne. "But it’s been really fun."
"It’s been very smooth," said actress and Parkite Ali Bennett, who will be playing one of the female leads, Gertrude McFuzz, the bird with the one-feathered tail.
"In a lot of ways I love it," said Christian, "because it really asks people to be at their best all the time."
With the short schedule, he noted, everybody has to know their lines and work together to get everything coordinated in the time allotted.
"Virtually everybody has to step up to the plate," Christian concluded.
He also noted the difficulty of working with such a large cast. Few productions, he noted, have ever fit 29 people onto the Egyptian Theatre stage at the same time, as "Seussical" does for its opening and closing songs. However, Christian made the arrangement work, offering a full and undoubtedly colorful scene to open the play, and on Monday at the first dress rehearsal, there were few if any missteps during the opening number.
Christian said his favorite part of the play, so far, has been the songs, although he did note certain drawbacks to that.
"The songs from this, get stuck in your head like no other," he noted.
"My favorite part is probably all of the music," she said.
She also said it was a privilege to work with one of her high school-classmates and best friends, Brittany Klintworth, who plays another of the main characters, Sour Kangaroo. Both Klintworth and Bennett attended Park City High School, and Bennett actually participated in the Eygptian’s YouthTheatre program when she was younger. She returns to the theatre after playing Dorothy in last year’s Christmas-time production, "The Wizard of Oz."
"It’s just so wonderful to come back to the Egyptian and play these roles," she said.
Bennett said that while she currently lives in New York City, trying to make it on Broadway, she returned to Park City for "Seussical."
She isn’t the only Egyptian veteran, either. Wayne is in his third Egyptain production in a row (and he’ll make his fourth appearance with "The Full Monty.") after taking a supporting role in "Jesus Christ Superstar" and playing a leading role of Albin in "La Cage aux Folles"
"I’ve kind of made a little home," Wayne noted.
But, he added, that happened for a reason.
"I love the division of their season," he said. "They did two pieces that are really edgy, [and now] they aren’t doing a traditional holiday show."
However, it’s still a show anybody could appreciate, no matter what age.
"It’s going to be a fun, fun show," said Wayne. "It’s exciting."
"Seussical the Musical" will open this Friday, Nov. 25 at 8 p.m. at the Egyptian Theatre and will play most nights through Dec. 31 at 7:30 p.m. Tickets range from $32-$122. For a full schedule of performances, and for tickets or more information, visit http://www.parkcityshows.com or call 649-9371.
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