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Theatre department prepares for spring musical

Christine Jenkinson

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Dr. Seuss’s books are coming to life at AU this month.

“Seussical” takes many Dr. Seuss stories and turns them into a musical.

Dr. Teresa Durbin-Ames, associate professor of theater and the artistic director of theater, is the director.

“The show is really to reach out to the broader community beyond campus, and reach out to the greater Ashland community,” Durbin-Ames said. “We had done ‘The Wizard of Oz,’ it’s been about four or five years now, and we had just had great audience responses, and I was like ‘I’d really like to see big audiences.’ They came, they brought families and children, and so I thought ‘Seussical’ might do that, so we hadn’t done a show like that with a very, very intentional family show.”

The show brought in children from the Ashland community, as well as a professor from AU.

“This particular show we did invite, so there are 10 children from the community, third grade through eighth grade, and they play The Whos,” Durbin-Ames said. “Dr. John Moser, from the history department has got a role in the show as well.”

Since there are so many actors onstage, there must be people backstage to help with costumes and setting up the set. Kim Powers is the set designer, Daniel Hobbs is the costume designer, Patty Lanious does the lighting and Justin Bilewicz is the costume manager.

“When you’re sitting in the audience watching the show, there will be 50 people that will have put this together,’ said Durbin-Ames. “We have 20 AU students in the cast, we have 10 children from the community, the orchestra is a dozen, and then if you think about the behind the scenes people that’s probably another 10.”

One aspect of the theater department is that they are welcoming to everyone at AU, not just theater majors.

“We have a cast of 20 AU students and they are from various majors…we’ve got a blend, so you do not have to be a theater major or minor to audition and be cast in the show.” Durbin-Ames said.

Senior Megan Harvey is a multiple-disciplinary theatre and business management major and chorus member in “Seussical.”

“That’s something I love about this department,” Harvey said. “We have education majors in it, we have theater majors, music majors, forensic science majors. You get a whole slew of everybody and then you have the little kids and Professor Moser…it doesn’t matter who you are: anybody and everybody’s welcome.”

“Seussical” is a musical that includes some of Dr. Seuss’s stories.

“‘Seussical’ brings a lot of Dr. Seuss stories together, so it doesn’t follow one – only one – story, but I think the central one is Horton Hears A Who,” Durbin-Ames said. “The Whos are on their speck of dust and he has to save them from blowing around. So he’s defending them and protecting them and that’s kind of the central story. But there’s a little bit of the Circus McGurkus where somebody goes to the circus. The Cat in the Hat is kind of the narrator, MC, of what’s going on. Gertrude, who only has one tail, is gaining her confidence and trying to figure out who she is and Maisy the lazy bird, so they’re all kind of woven together throughout the story.”

Dr. Seuss’s way of sending messages is not just for kids.

“Everyone matters, and we have to think about that, so I think that’s a message from Dr. Seuss that we can all take with us. It’s not just for little kids, those messages resonate with us forever,” Durbin-Ames said.

“Seussical” will be presented in the Hugo Young Theater on Feb. 16, 17, 23, and 24 at 7:30 p.m., and at 2:00 p.m. on Feb. 18.

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