Horton Hears a Hit

Horton Hears a Hit

Late on a Friday afternoon six teenage girls are draped from chin to hands to feet in black and white fabric and are dancing around wildly. The latest dance craze? The latest fashion trend? No, it is only a scene from "Seussical the Musical," which Stone Bridge High School will present beginning May 4.

On that afternoon, the 60 students involved in the show gather in the cafeteria with director and drama teacher, Glen Hochkeppel, to work on the second act of their spring musical.

Based on the books of Dr. Seuss, "Seussical the Musical" follows the adventures of Horton the Elephant, the Whos, Mayzie La Bird and, of course, the Cat in the Hat. The story is created in the imagination of little JoJo, the son of the mayor of Whoville and follows the characters through sea crossings, a circus and a court trial. With rousing songs and elaborate sets, Hochkeppel said audiences can prepare for an amazing experience.

"It's really a spectacle," he said. "I just want people to laugh as you laugh at cartoons."

WITH FAMILIAR characters from everyone's childhood and an imaginative story line, "Seussical the Musical" gives both Hochkeppel and the performers the chance to do something different.

"There is something about a kids' show that gives people a little more license," Hochkeppel, who has been the drama teacher for six years, said. "Everyone has been a child and knows what a child finds funny."

At the April 21 rehearsal laughs are plentiful. With each scene at least one performer tries something new or practices a face or voice that makes the other students laugh out loud.

Mace Sorenson, who plays the Cat in the Hat, worked on his character even when he was not on stage, walking around the cafeteria making exaggerated faces and hand gestures.

"I get to pretend to be a lot of different people," the senior said. "It's really fun to play with so many different characters in one play."

And play Sorenson does. As the narrator, or as Sorenson puts it, the "Dr. Seuss deity," the Cat in the Hat moves from storyteller to auctioneer to Palm Beach pool boy.

"The story lets you be really wacky on stage," Kristen Rencher, who plays JoJo, said. "The hardest thing is keeping track of all of the characters. There are so many of them you have to remember who it is you are speaking too."

COMPLICATED CHARACTERS and role-playing are only part of the craziness of "Seussical the Musical." Although it is based on children's books, Hochkeppel said there is nothing immature about the musical itself.

"I am a very big fan of melody and I thought the music was very sophisticated," he said. "People will be surprised by the voice quality and the music quality. They might come in expecting a dumbed-down kids' show, but they are going to get something amazing."

"Seussical" is done almost completely in song, making for a tough road for the performers.

"There is a lot more singing involved than any other show I have done," Sorenson said. "Then the choreography is even harder because there is always something else going on [on stage.]"

In a show that is written almost entirely in song, much of the music is similar, forcing the performers to work even harder to perfect it.

"A lot of the show is the same music with different words," Rencher said. "So you really have to work to keep track of where you are and what you should be singing."

FOR ALL OF its complicated nature, audiences will be drawn into a real-life version of the books they grew up cherishing and won't have time to think about the hard work that went into creating the world of the play.

"There are really cool looking visual effects," Hochkeppel said. "You can't go five minutes without seeing something new and something inventive. The music is decently hard, but with the set and prop pieces we could really go bananas."

Between the sets, the music and the story, everyone involved believes that they have created a family friendly experience for their audience.

"This is going to be a show that parents can bring their kids to and not worry," Sorenson said. "It is just a really, really fun show and a really safe one at the same time."