A new ACT UP! performance (a partnership between the Community Arts Center and the Community Theatre League), "Seussical the Musical," will run July 26 through the 28. This particular show is essentially the familiar story of "Horton Hears a Who."
According to Seussical's director, Jacquie Engel, the ACT UP! productions began in 2008.
"Six years ago, I was scheduling CTL summer theater camps and Disney's 'High School Musical' was all the rage. I thought it would be a great show to do, but I knew it had to be much bigger than our usual camps, so I contact Rob Steele at the CAC. He had mentioned to me a year or two earlier that the theater he headed before coming here produced a big summer musical with teenagers every summer. He said someday it would be great to do that kind of thing here," Engel said.
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The name, she said, stands for "A Community Theatre's United Production." CTL provides the artistic staff, and the CAC provides the technical and house staff.
Productions like "Seussical" are important to the community because they give students interested in theater the ability to perform on a large stage in front of an audience.
"We hold auditions in April. We get kids from all over Central Pa. Our dance captain drives more than an hour, from near the N.Y. border to get here," Engel said.
Despite students coming from many areas, Williamsport's very own Zane Wagner will perform the lead role as the Cat in the Hat. He is from Williamsport Area High School class of 2013.
"The cat is very wild and crazy and loves to cause problems for people, only it benefits them in the end. He has this twisted way of helping people. I just think crazy things and just have fun, because the cat is all about having a good time and going nuts," Wagner said. "I honestly just pretend I'm a nutty cartoon character."
Wagner will be attending Point Park University, Pittsburgh, this fall, to study musical theater.
At age 18, he is very accomplished; he plays and teaches the viola, sings at church, and has been very involved with the Make A Wish foundation.
"Other people are my inspiration. Their reactions and their personal stories help me grow and learn about everything not just theater. I think the best way to learn is from the people and getting know other ideas and remain open minded," he said.
Veronica Balestino, 17, and also from Williamsport Area High School, plays Gertrude McFuzz. This will be her third ACT UP! performance.
"For this particular part, it really helped me get into character to read many of the actual Dr. Seuss books. Once you see how Dr. Seuss' characters fit into the musical, it's a lot easier to figure out how Dr. Seuss himself would have wanted you to act as one of his characters come to life," she said.
She's excited that she gets the chance to perform on CAC's stage and is thankful that the ACT UP! partnership gives the students the opportunity.
"I love performing on the CAC stage and it's really awesome that ACT UP! gives us the opportunity to perform there. I know that a lot of kids never get to sing and dance at a professional place like we do and I'm so thankful that our directors gave us the chance to," she said.
She claims that "Seussical" is much different from other musicals because the plot is complicated and crazy.
Opening night is something all of the students are looking forward to.
"My favorite part of opening night is the audience. The audience helps our performance just as much as our fellow cast members," said Austin Boroch, 18, Montoursville Area High School, who plays Horton the elephant.
The show will play Friday the 26th and Saturday the 27th starting at 7:30 p.m. and also Sunday the 28th at 2 p.m.
" 'Seussical' is a blast. The music is fun and upbeat and the stories are familiar and timeless. The show takes several Dr. Seuss stories and weaves them into one great big family musical. The costumes and set are colorful and children of all ages will enjoy the great dancing and music. It touches your heart with music by the people who wrote the musical 'Ragtime' and 'Once on this Island,' " Engel said.
Visit caclive.com for tickets and more information.
Veronica Balestino as "Gertrude McFuzz," left, and Austin Boroch as "Horton the Elephant" rehearse for "Seussical the Musical" at the Community Arts Center, 220 W. fourth St., July 11. The production is presented by ACT UP! with shows July 26 to 28.