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'Seussical the Musical': Adorable, Affordable and Colorful

'A ray of sunshine' on stage at Loynd Auditorium

Fifty-six: That's how many cast members perform in the whimsical, imaginative and colorful Seussical the Musical. Performers, ages two through 50, are directed by Mary-Bastoni Rebmann (not pictured) at Kennett High School’s Loynd Auditorium, beginning this Friday evening, Nov. 5. Rachael Brown. (click for larger version)
November 04, 2010
Dr. Seuss, the pen name for Theodor Seuss Geisel, wrote 44 books, translated into 15 languages and has sold over 200 million copies. An assortment of his books, including "The Cat in the Hat," "Horton Hatches an Egg." "Horton Hears a Who," "Green Eggs and Ham," "Yertle the Turtle and Other Stories," (just to name a few), are woven together in this musical, which will be directed by Mary Bastoni-Rebmann.

"Seussical the Musical," written by Stephen Flaherty with lyrics by Lynn Aherns, first debuted on Broadway in 2000. It was not a success. The buzz at the time was that the playwright didn't get the right story at first. Flaherty revised the script and the buzz changed. The musical was excitedly received and embraced by community theaters, says Bastoni-Rebmann, and the musical has been bringing joy, laughter and life's lessons ever since. "It is as cute as it gets," she says. "A ray of sunshine."

Everyone knows Dr. Seuss. "Everyone is familiar with Dr. Seuss," says Bastoni-Rebmann. "The five-and six-year-olds in the production are so enthralled with the books they tend to sit down and read the books on the set and forget we are rehearsing," she explains.

The appeal from the youngest to the oldest is held by the audience and actors alike. "Our youngest actor is two years old, and we have actors in their teens, twenties, thirties, forties and fifties. There are 56 people in the performance, five to ten adults," she adds. Performers hail from both Kennett High School and Fryeburg Academy. The show appeals to all ages, she adds.

It is a family affair for some. Bastoni Rebmann's husband, Tom, is the set designer. "Tom has interpreted Dr. Seuss' magic for the set design. What a talented man," says Bastoni-Rebmann of her husband. Kennett Middle School teacher Reed Van Rossum performs with his three children, and his son Liam is double cast, playing two roles. Catrina Carous from Brownfield and her two children also join the cast.

It is a talented group of mostly local talent. "Everyone is tapping toes and smiling; we are so proud of our local talent," says Bastoni-Rebmannn. Aimee Frechette, a special education teacher, is the choreographer. "Aimee is such a talented choreographer, I can't say enough about her," she says.

The musical benefits from local Maine talent, too. Some of the musicians are from the University of Southern Maine, as is the music director, George Wiese.

Ever heard a theremin?

Speaking of music, Bastoni-Rebmann says Weise put together an eight-piece pit orchestra, which includes the theremin instrument. The theremin is an electronic instrument played without touching. The player moves their hands near the antennae, which pick up frequencies to create sound. The sound is an eerie, scary one, explains Bastoni-Rebmann.

The story is narrated by the Cat in the Hat. The audience can see Jojo, Gertrude McFuzz, Horton the Elephant, The Whos, Mayzie La Bird and many more Seuss characters come to life on sets blazing with color. Like the books, the production teaches life's lessons.

The performance is one and a half hours of affordable family fun. Bastoni-Rebmann says they will be offering Seuss hats, glow bracelets and other souvenirs for sale in the lobby. Seussical the Musical wraps up the 2010 Arts in Motion season, which Glenn Noble, treasurer and co-founder of Arts in Motion, says was bigger than last year and a great season. Proceeds from the season go toward two $1000 scholarships for one deserving Kennett High student and one Fryeburg Academy student.

Bastoni-Rebmann is looking forward to opening night.

"Dr. Seuss' stories take you to a magical world, much like Harry Potter. It is absolutely unique, loveable," she says. "I'll be crying my eyes out opening night."

Performances will be held at the Loynd Auditorium at Kennett High School on Nov. 5 and 12 at 7 p.m., Nov. 6 and 13 at 1 and 7 p.m., and Nov. 7 and 14 at 1 p.m. Tickets are $8 for children and seniors, $10 for adults.

For more information and tickets, visit www.artsinmotiontheater.com.

Martin Lord Osman
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