By Christine Sampson
Pierson Middle School thespians have been busy transforming the school auditorium into Whoville for this year’s musical production, “Seussical,” based on the beloved characters and stories of children’s author Dr. Seuss.
Exactly who’s who in the cast? Many of the same faces from last year’s “The Little Mermaid” have grown up a little more. Lillian McGuire, who last year starred as Ariel in “The Little Mermaid,” is The Cat in the Hat, and Ava DiLorenzo, who played Ursula the Sea Witch last year, is Gertrude McFuzz in “Seussical.” Everett McMahon is Horton the Elephant, Thomas Schiavoni Jr. is the Mayor, Zoe Richardson is The Grinch and Isabel Doyle is Jojo — just to name a few of the many players.
“I think now there are more people coming into the shows who have so much talent,” said Ava, an eighth-grader. “Pierson is unbelievably talented and it’s really amazing to see everybody grow with the shows as they move on.”
“Seussical” combines the classic tale of “The Cat in the Hat” with those of Horton the elephant and Gertrude McFuzz to teach some important messages.
Horton, of course, believes that “a person’s a person, no matter how small,” believes everyone should be treated equally and demonstrates loyalty, kindness and commitment to his beliefs.
“I think the lessons that Horton provides are wonderful examples for any audience of any age,” said Everett, an eighth grader, for whom the role of “Horton” is his first time in a lead role.
And the message doesn’t stop there. “The Cat and the Hat and Jojo teach us that there is power in imagination, that creativity should valued and celebrated, not squashed, and that when you use your mind, anything’s possible,” director Bethany Dellapolla said. “Plus, no matter who you are, or what size you are — even if you’re as small as a ‘Who’ — you have the power to change the world. Finally, Gertrude teaches us that just being you is enough, and that it’s what’s on the inside, not the outside, that counts most. She also shows us that love is unselfish, and a risk worth going for.”
The show promises not only a meaningful message, but also some quirky and brightly colored sets designed by Paul Goerz, intricately detailed costumes by Melissa Luppi, crazy song-and-dance numbers and even acrobatics. Sophia Grace Villeneuve and Eva McKelvey, who happen to be a pair of same-sized gymnastic powerhouses, earned roles as Seuss characters Thing 1 and Thing 2.
“It’s a lot of fun. This is a very aerobic musical, very full of life and energetic,” said Lillian, an eighth grader, who said she is enjoying working with her sister Caroline, a sixth grader, in the show. “It’s very family friendly, very entertaining. It will be fun for everyone to come and watch.”
Ms. Dellapolla explained “Seussical” is actually considered an operetta because its dialogue is almost entirely sung, in addition to all the songs.
“Pierson has never done anything like that in the middle school before,” she said. “Even just for that reason, I thought it would be interesting and cool. Plus, the music is really difficult, and I thought it would push the kids to another level in that way.”
“Seussical” runs February 8, 9 and 10 at 7 p.m. and February 11 at 2 p.m. Tickets are $10 each and can be purchased at the door and also by contacting Anne Galanty in the main office at firstname.lastname@example.org or (631) 725-5300.