By Marlene Dischler
Spring Grove Herald
“A person’s a person, no matter how small,” repeats Horton the elephant in the Dr. Seuss book, “Horton Hears A Who.”
Many people – big and small – have worked together for many weeks to create Ye Olde Opera House’s production of “Seussical the Musical” that will take the stage at Ye Olde Gray Barn, east of Spring Grove, on Thursday, July 18.
Ye Olde Opera House (YOOH) describes “Seussical the Musical” on their website, as “based on several well-known Dr. Seuss books. The Cat in the Hat tells the story of Horton the Elephant, who finds himself faced with a double challenge, not only must he protect his tiny friend Jojo from a world of naysayers and dangers, but he must guard an abandoned egg, left to his care by the irresponsible Mayzie La Bird.
“Although Horton faces ridicule, danger, kidnapping and a trial, the intrepid Gertrude McFuzz never loses faith in him; she recognizes ‘his kind and his powerful heart.’
“Ultimately, the powers of friendship, loyalty, family and community are challenged and emerge triumphant in a story that will make the audience laugh and cry.”
“Dr. Seuss wrote so much in verse that it fit perfectly as song lyrics,” explained Bill Fried, director of YOOH’s musical.
“The script was created in the late 1990s and early 2000s with extensive input from Eric Idle who played the cat in the show’s development. He is also an original member of ‘Monty Python’s Flying Circus’ on BBC television. We leave it up to the audience to identify the 18 books which inspire the musical.”
New this year at Ye Olde Gray Barn production is that the band will be on the stage instead of in their usual hidden spot in the hayloft.
“Each orchestra is such a jewel for a musical. We look forward to having the band on the stage this year. The music in this production is terrific,” added Fried.
“Some of our cast members have been witnessed singing it in their sleep!”
This production calls for a large cast. “We have over 30 actors on stage this year! This is definitely a challenge for the barn space; however, the large cast allows for many actors to shine. We also have a wide range of ages in the cast which has kept us laughing and enjoying practice each night.”
This year’s cast members are: Aaron Goetting as the Cat, Gunnar Tolleson as Boy/Jojo, Greg Erickson as Horton, Alisha Solum as Gertrude, Lydia Peterson as Mayzie, Lindsay Mackie as Kangaroo, Rob Gross as General Gengus, Zane Anderson as Mayor, Kristi Anderson as Mayor’s Wife, Rob Gross as Grinch, Harvey Goetting as Yertle the Turtle, Kaitlyn Gross as Vladina Vladikovna, and Sterling Tolleson as Young Kangaroo.
The Wickersham Bros. are Ben Goetting, Greta Goetting and Evan Privet. The Whos and Cadets are Alexander Deters, Camron Sylling, Sydnie Kampschroer, Katrina Paulson and Maria Esch.
The Fish are Elyse Storlie, Kennedy Bornholdt and Kailee Olerud. Thing 1 and Thing 2 are Lawrence Skauge and Ava Olerud. The Jungle and Circus are Rebeckah Schroeder, Michaela Kasten and Rhiannon Skauge.
The Bird Girls are Shae Goetting, Kerrigan Scanlan, Autumn Bornholdt and Trina Scanlan.
Fried is directing this year with co-producers Rachel and David Storlie. Stage managers are Lydia Peterson and Katrina Paulson. Lighting is Scott Solberg, Harrison Speltz and Bethany Bergsgaard. Audio techs are Rick Sundet and Phillip Paulson. Major set design is by Fried with design help and construction by Lee Hoekstra.
Pit band members are: Todd Krueger (director), Barb Arnold (flute and piccolo), Patrick Miller (clarinet, tenor sax, bass clarinet), Fred Arnold (trumpet), Craig Hahn (trumpet), Steve Harmon (trombone), Grace Harmon (trombone), Rachel Storlie (piano), Elizabeth Johnson (auxiliary percussion), Jon Hagerott (drums) and Nick Bjerke (bass).
Food on the Green
An evening performance at Ye Olde Gray Barn wouldn’t be complete without treats on the Green.
This year’s menu has Seuss-inspired desserts – Thing 1 and Thing 2 red velvet cupcakes topped with a Truffula tree, Sour Kangaroo rhubarb sour cream pie, Whoville cheesecakes with Gertrude’s Pillberry Sauce, Mayzie’s dirt and worm cups, Cat in the Hat’s Seuss Fish Cups and Horton’s peanut butter fudge bars.
The all-time favorite of fresh-popped popcorn will also be available at the popcorn wagon along with Spring Grove Soda and ice cream floats.
New this year
There will be family-friendly games offered on the Green this year for kids of all ages. Games such as ring toss, balloon pop, ping-pong water bowl toss, pin-the-trunk on Horton and a Cat in the Hat game. Some games will cost $1.
Eighteen Dr. Seuss books have made it into “Seussical the Musical” but that is not all of his collection. Two favorites that are not in the musical will be presented during the pre-show Readers Theater beginning at 8 p.m.
Large productions such as this wouldn’t be possible without the help of many volunteers.
“Ye Olde Opera House would like to thank the area 4-H clubs, athletic boosters, Thrivent Financial, Merchants Bank and other volunteers for parking cars, decorating the greens, building the set, painting the set, making props and costumes, selling tickets, making and serving dessert, popcorn and beverages, ushering and staffing games on the green. We couldn’t do it without you,” said Rachel Storlie with a smile.
Tickets for “Seussical the Musical” are on sale and available for purchase online (www.yeoldeoperahouse.org) or by calling 507-498-JULY (5859). All reserved tickets are $10. General admission tickets are $5 for children and $10 for adults (age 18 and up).
Dessert is available beginning at 7:30 p.m. Pre-show Readers Theater begins at 8 p.m. and the show begins at 8:30 p.m. “Seussical the Musical” is generously supported by Merchants Bank.
Ye Olde Gray Barn is located on the east side of Spring Grove on Hwy. 44. Enter by the Farmers Co-op Grain elevator and follow the parking assistants’ directions. Golf carts will be available for anyone who needs assistance navigating the hilly terrain.
This story was reprinted with premission from the Spring Grove Herald.