Songs, stories shine in ‘Seussical the Musical Jr.’

By: Maria Allard | Grosse Pointe Times | Published October 31, 2017

 Photo by Erin Sanchez Parcells Middle School students will perform “Seussical the Musical Jr.” at 7 p.m. Nov. 2 and 3. The school is located at 20600 Mack Ave. in Grosse Pointe Woods.

Photo by Erin Sanchez Parcells Middle School students will perform “Seussical the Musical Jr.” at 7 p.m. Nov. 2 and 3. The school is located at 20600 Mack Ave. in Grosse Pointe Woods.

Photo by Erin Sanchez

GROSSE POIBTE WOODS — The Parcells Middle School students have memorized their lines, perfected the songs and set the stage.

Now it’s showtime.

On Nov. 2 and 3, Parcells Middle School will present “Seussical the Musical Jr.” at 7 p.m. both evenings. Tickets cost $10 each for general admission and can be purchased at the door.

The show consists of 42 cast members performing in different roles. Helping out backstage are 25 crew members who built the sets and are in charge of the cast members’ hair and makeup.

Overseeing the students through each rehearsal is show director Sloane Artis, who earned her doctorate degree in musical arts from the University of California in Santa Barbara; musical director Kate Connolly; and Grosse Pointe North High School sophomore and stage manager Addison Rausch. In addition, parents Clare Pfeiffer and Laura Hetzler made costumes with design input from Artis. Some of the costuming also came from North.

“Seussical the Musical Jr.” takes audience members on a journey straight from the pages of various Dr. Seuss books. Popping up along the way are the characters of the Cat in the Hat, Horton the Elephant, the Sour Kangaroo, Gertrude McFuzz, Lazy Mayzie and JoJo.

“It’s about a young girl (JoJo) who has a very large imagination,” said Artis, a private voice teacher who has her own studio and also teaches voice lessons at North. “It’s a fun story that involves all the characters of Whoville and the animals. The students are doing a wonderful job. I’m so proud of them.”

In the story, misfit JoJo struggles in the tiny Who society while Horton protects a speck of dust and all the Whos who live in the town. Gertrude McFuzz tries to catch the attention of her true love, Horton, whom the townspeople have turned against. Through several adventures, the characters eventually find their places in the world.

“I’m also very alone,” said eighth-grader Ian O’Donnell who plays Horton. “JoJo and Horton get to know each other.”

Eighth-grader Sarah Lawlis has put all of her acting and singing skills into the role of The Cat in the Hat.

“You have to get to know your characters. We had to work on our pronunciation and dictation,” she said. “I need to be energetic. I need to show fun. Dr. A makes it really fun. She makes us feel special to be in the musical. She’s always giving us tips and helps us do our best on stage.”

Seventh-grade student Karly Harris is cast as JoJo.

“I was very excited when I got the role. This was one on my list,” Harris said.

It’s eighth-graders Rhoby Rausch, in the role of Lazy Mayzie, and Cate Ramsey, as the Sour Kangaroo, who bring plenty of sassiness to the show.  

“Playing the antagonist, I think it’s really fun for you to do,” Ramsey said. “You get to learn to love your character. It grows on you. You are the embodiment of the character.”

“It’s a really energetic show. We’re very happy with the roles we got. We learned to grow with our characters,” Rausch said. “I think we have an amazing cast and crew. Our sets we got are amazing. The costume moms are doing a great job.”

The students perform several songs throughout the show. For Lawlis, her favorite tune is “Oh, the Thinks You Can Think.”

“It’s just such an energetic opener,” she said.

Ramsey’s favorite song is “Biggest Blame Fool.”

“I get to belt out all my lines,” she said. “It’s super upbeat. It sort of is a swing tune.”

While the cast is having fun, they also have had to work hard on their lines and dedicate themselves to their characters. Some aspects have been challenging, but the students have pushed through.

“My hardest part is getting the notes right on my songs,” Harris said. “It’s been really hard to memorize all of them.”

Eighth-grader Dulcinea Licavoli, who plays Gertrude McFuzz, and O’Donnell, as Horton, have practiced their dipping move while dancing as much as they can so, as Licavoli said, “he doesn’t drop me.”

Parcells is located at 20600 Mack Ave. in Grosse Pointe Woods.