Behind the scenes of “Seussical”

Cast and crew collaborate to light up stage with first musical since pandemic

Set+Design+Co-Head+junior+Alex+Reineke+paints+a+background+for+the+Seussical+production+alongside+freshman+Maggie+OConnell.+The+musical+opens+this+Thursday%2C+Nov.+18+at+7+p.m.

Priya Maraliga

Set Design Co-Head junior Alex Reineke paints a background for the “Seussical” production alongside freshman Maggie O’Connell. The musical opens this Thursday, Nov. 18 at 7 p.m.

Claire Bai and Brianna Tang

With upbeat music, lively dance routines and vibrant set designs, the auditorium will come alive with a massive collaborative effort through the first in person musical performance since the start of the pandemic. “Seussical,” a show based on the works of Dr. Seuss, will be performed four times total: Thursday, Nov. 18 and Friday, Nov. 19 at 7 p.m., and Saturday, Nov. 20 at 2 p.m. and 7 p.m.

“After not doing shows in the past year and a half, there have been a lot of challenges,” musical director and science teacher Brian Kelly said. “I think the cast is really excited to be back on stage again with a live audience since we did a lot of virtual performances last year.” 

As the stage director, Kelly oversees the entire production from backstage to directing actors’ expressions and movements, working closely with chorus teacher Olivia Goliger and choreographer Denise Day. With shifting advice from the medical board, it has been difficult for both actors and crew members to follow regulations while also getting everything done for the show. According to current guidelines, performers will not have to wear masks if they are fully vaccinated and have a negative COVID result within 48 hours of the show.

Based on Dr. Seuss’s books, the musical is a whimsical and lighthearted choice for the return of live performances. 

“We are finally back; I think that is really big for ARHS drama,” technical director senior Jared Lipkin said. “It is a fun show; I think people can come and expect to have a fun time and laugh. It’s something everybody needs.”  

 

Cast Members

Since their audition workshops on the first day of school, the cast members of “Seussical” have been adjusting to a rehearsal schedule similar to that of musicals before the pandemic. Auditions took place a week after the workshops, and the cast list was finalized the following week. 

“It definitely feels like it has been a long time since we had something like this,” senior actress Sarah Boush said. “I felt like I had to readjust to it, but once I did, it has been so exciting and the most normal thing we’ve had in the arts department in a long time since we didn’t even have concerts last year.” 

The cast features Boush as Gertrude McFuzz, senior Thomas Davis as Mr. Major, senior Juan Benatuil as the Cat in the Hat, senior Andrew Wallace as Horton the Elephant, sophomore Gianna Davidson as Amazing Mayzie and freshman Leyton Jackson as Jojo, along with the Who Ensemble. 

Many cast members feel that this musical gave them the opportunity to connect with other students.

It definitely feels like it has been a long time since we had something like this. I felt like I had to readjust to it, but once I did, it has been so exciting and the most normal thing we’ve had in the arts department in a long time since we didn’t even have concerts last year.”

— Sarah Boush, senior

“Especially because we missed such a long period, we have finally gotten to work with some of the freshmen and sophomores who we haven’t worked with before,” Who Ensemble member senior Cassidy Brannon said. “It has been really nice to get to know them.”

For many of the cast members, dancing has been the most challenging aspect of rehearsals. 

“We dove in pretty quick and instantly started dancing for the opening number,” Davis said. “A good amount of people do a decent amount of singing and acting on the side, so the dancing has definitely been a rude awakening, but it has been a lot of fun.” 

According to Boush, compared to previous musicals, “Seussical” is more lighthearted and fun, which requires a completely different acting style. 

“After such a dark year and not having anywhere to perform at, I think the choice of Seussical was to bring something light and really fun,” Boush said. “Even if we were jumping back into it aggressively, it has been really fun and uplifting.”

 

Pit Orchestra

The pit orchestra, led by Fine and Performing Arts teacher Eric Vincent, provides the cast with musical accompaniment. In the week leading up to the musical, they have rehearsal daily for three to four hours. 

“Everyone is really busy with school and other stuff, so finding time to work on Seussical and practice is hard,” pit orchestra member junior Madeline Jiang said. “I feel better now that we have started to practice with the cast.” 

The [musical] pieces are long and pretty difficult since it’s such a long show. I’m excited to perform, but nervous about knowing my own part.”

— Madeline Jiang, junior

While musicians could continue playing during the pandemic, the adjustment to performing for a long duration has been hard. 

“The pieces are long and pretty difficult since it’s such a long show,” Jiang said. “I’m excited to perform, but nervous about knowing my own part.”

Electric bass player senior Connor Veitch is excited for the orchestra to come together during the final performances.

“For me, the bass parts are usually really long and boring,” Veitch said. “However, I am looking forward to everything coming together while we perform with the cast.”

 

Stage Crew & Set Design

Alongside Kelly and their mentor Dan Strickland, the set design team creates the musical’s set and props. Co-led by junior Alex Reineke and assistant stage manager sophomore Autumn Stewart, a team of around four people works every day after school, often for several hours. 

“Essentially what I do is manage everything that pertains to the set for Seussical,” Reineke said. “I’ve been here almost every day since day one.” 

The team is responsible for brainstorming, designing, painting and cutting up all of the pieces of the set. Reineke has been responsible for finding people to help out which has proven to be a challenge. Compared to last year’s student-led play, “Paralleled,” the set of “Seussical” is much more complicated and requires more coordination efforts.

It’s exciting to have such a large student interest, especially in the backstage part. I’m optimistic that we are starting to see the end of the pandemic, and with it, a new chapter of ARHS drama.”

— Jared Lipkin, senior

“[‘Seussical’] is different from ‘Paralleled’ because it is working with different people and there are more pieces,” Stewart said. “There is more that we have to do for this one and less people to help.” 

As technical director, Lipkin oversees all the backstage production and schedules communications and rehearsals, while training the younger students. As this is the first school musical since the pandemic began nearly two years ago, many students are inexperienced with many of the technical aspects. Lipkin also hopes to pass on strong interpersonal skills which are imperative to keep the show running smoothly. 

“This is the first time we have been back in our space and have been able to reacclimate ourselves with our home,” Lipkin said. “It’s exciting to have such a large student interest, especially in the backstage part. I’m optimistic that we are starting to see the end of the pandemic, and with it, a new chapter of ARHS drama.”