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Dr. Seuss classics come to life in BHS production

The cast of Belmont High School’s spring production, “Seussical the Musical,” strikes a pose in their brightly colored costumes as they prepare to bring characters from Dr. Seuss classics to the stage this Thursday, Friday, and Saturday night. (Donna Rhodes) (click for larger version)
April 13, 2011
BELMONT — Would you like a night out to see a play? You're going to love this one, I say, as Belmont High School's drama group brings "Seussical the Musical" to the stage this Thursday, Friday and Saturday night in the Belmont Middle School gymnasium.

Directed by English teacher Angela Pitroni, the characters are right from the pages of he most beloved Dr. Seuss classics, featuring "The Cat in the Hat," "Yertle the Turtle," "Green Eggs and Ham," and "Horton Hears a Who," among others. The costumes, created by Pitroni herself for a previous production with the Kearsarge Arts Theater in Sutton and at Plymouth State University, bring the colorful array of childhood literary friends to life as they sing and dance their way through this heart-warming musical.

"We talked about it and wanted to do a show that was upbeat and fun, yet has a nice message," Pitroni said.

Dr. Seuss, she said, wrote his books with themes of peace and courage, and, written during tumultuous times in the world, they contained many anti-war sentiments. He firmly believed in people taking care of others and living in peace with respect for one another.

She quoted a line from "Horton Hears a Who" which demonstrated her point: "A person's a person no matter how small."

For "Seussical," Pitroni feels she has assembled the perfect cast. Townsend Carmody will strut the stage as the Cat in the Hat. Accompanying her will be Katelyn Boudreau as Jo Jo, Kieran Harpell as Horton, Claire Gravenhorst as Gertrude and Katie Lipshultz as Mayzie. Katie Tarr will portray the Sour Kangaroo, and Dan Clary will be featured as Yertle the Tertle. Joining them onstage will be many other characters, such as Mr. and Mrs. Mayor (Chris Sanborn and Jonna Clark), General Schmidt (Scott Currier), and Who/Vlad Vladikov (Tom Morin). Hunters, jungle animals, fish, cadets, circus performers, "hunches" and cadets will also fill the scenes with song and dance.

"It's a real mix of Dr. Seuss characters and stories that's a lot of fun for everyone," Pitroni said.

Music for the production is fun, as well. Harpell, who plays Horton, said he has "had a blast" with rehearsals for the play, and looks forward to opening night.

"I really like the singing in this show. It just makes my day," he said.

Each of the cast members said their only regret is it will all be over soon.

"We've sort of become a family after spending so much time around each other for rehearsals," said Claire Spaulding.

Still, they are anxious to show people of all ages just what those long hours have brought about.

Gravenhorst, who plays Gertrude the bird, said everyone is sure to enjoy this year's show, saying it is the "most fun you will ever have."

Alison Witshonke agreed, and added that "Seussical the Musical" is like a "walk down Memory Lane" for anyone who has ever read Seuss' books while growing up.

Children from the Belmont and Canterbury elementary schools also have cameo performances, and teachers are involved with small roles, too.

"This is a great show because it unites all the schools. There's a lot of talent involved," said Devon Kenney, a sophomore who will be a lion in the performance.

This year's Spring Musical will also mark the final appearance of BHS music director Ray Craigie in the pit, who retires in June after 28 years at the school. He and his orchestra of high school students will play the score for the 25 songs featured in "Seussical."

Pitroni said the show lasts for approximately 90 minutes, making it a great show for even small tots to enjoy.

"It moves fast. There are characters they know and the colors of the costumes and all the terrific songs and dancing should really hold their attention," she said.

Tickets for "Seussical the Musical" are $10 for adults, $7 for seniors and students. Curtains on this collection of Dr. Seuss classics will rise at 7 p.m. in the Belmont Middle School gym on April 14, 15 and 16.

Martin Lord Osman
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