In honor of Dr. Seuss’s 100th birthday, the Peoria Community Theatre Company, in partnership with Richwoods High School, presents the Peoria community theatre premiere of Seussical the Musical. Written by Steven Flaherty and Lynn Ahrens, the same Tony Award-winning team that penned Ragtime and Once Upon This Island, Seussical brings the Dr. Seuss characters to life in a musical extravaganza.

This show is a lively mix of toe-tapping music and an endearing story based on Dr. Seuss’ most beloved characters, which leap off the stage in a burst of color, style, and song. The adults in the audience will travel back to their childhood to the land of the Whos and the Jungle of Nool. Children in the audience will be exposed to the delightfully zany characters created by one of the most beloved storytellers of all time.

This musical touches on some of Seuss’ deepest themes such as kindness and acceptance, respect for one another, our responsibility to the natural world, power of the mind, self-esteem, and the meaning of loyalty. The Peoria Community Theatre Company plans to give audiences of all ages an entertaining experience.

Founded in 2002, this not-for-profit theatre company was formed as a way to provide performance and backstage opportunities to a broad base of the community, while performing quality family entertainment. The goal of the company is to give back financially to the arts within our community. Proceeds from the last two successful productions of Annie and Bye Bye Birdie equipped the Richwoods High School auditorium/theater with the first two phases of a newly installed sound system. Seussical will help fund the final phase of this endeavor.

The students participating in this production are thrilled that they can use their talents to help make a difference at their school, and the show is a perfect fit for the students at Richwoods. The cast consists of 35 high school students and six elementary students filling the child parts. This talented ensemble cast is led by Micah Spayer (Cat In The Hat), Quinn Orear (Horton the Elephant), Megan McKinney (Gertrude McFuzz), and Sasha Cardwell (Mayzie LaBird). Spayer and Orear were last seen in Miss Saigon at Eastlight, portraying the Engineer and John, respectively. McKinney was last seen at Corn Stock dancing and singing as Lois/Bianca in Kiss Me Kate, and Sasha is always seen performing in a community theatre or dance production.

I can’t say enough wonderful things about this outstanding cast. They’re an extremely theatrically experienced and diverse group of teens. Their love and passion for the stage shines through in every moment of this production.

In connection with this production, a Seussical Musical Theatre Workshop took place October 16 at Richwoods for interested students in grades one to four. They took part in an all-day voyage of their imagination and that of Dr. Seuss. The workshop explored creative dramatics, improvisation, stage movement, and voice. Children are natural theatergoers who enjoy seeing a character come alive on stage as much, if not more, than reading about the character in a book. This workshop helped the children appreciate Dr. Seuss’ works, while exposing them to the wonder and excitement of live theatre.

Each participant of the workshop will perform as a member of the youth chorus in one of the upcoming Seussical shows. As an added 100th birthday celebration for Dr. Seuss, all kids in the audience are encouraged to dress up as their favorite Dr. Seuss character. A dress-up parade will take place during intermission, where costumed kids will get the chance to come up on stage and meet the characters from the show.

Staff for the show includes choreographer Peggy Breaux, music director Carol Spayer, OrchExtra director Joseph Kritz, technical director Chris Barber, set construction manager Terry Spayer, and producer Doug Orear.

Seussical the Musical is performed at 7:30 p.m., October 28 to 30, and at 2 p.m., October 31, at Richwoods High School. Tickets cost $12 for adults and $10 for students and can be purchased at the door prior to the show. AA!