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'Seussical the Musical' message: It's OK to be different

Cary Ashby • Updated Jan 25, 2017 at 2:13 PM

Fitting in is tough for teenagers some days. And it can be for many adults.

So the message of “Seussical the Musical” is a universal one — that it’s OK to be unique.

“Supposedly in Whoville world, thinkers are bad things because it’s not normal,” said Norwalk High School freshman Garbrielle Horowitz, who plays Jojo, a thinker.

Horowitz, the daughter of Jordan and Heather, said Jojo is important to the musical because her character struggles with finding someone who is similar.

The biggest number in the upcoming production is “Oh, the Things You Can Think,” which the performers said emphasizes the message behind “Seussical the Musical.” Written by Lynn Ahrens and Stephen Flaherty, the musical combines elements and characters from some of Dr. Seuess’ most famous books.

Actors, dancers and singers at NHS have been working hard as they rehearse for “Seussical,” which will be performed March 9 through 12 at the Ernsthausen Performing Arts Center. The director is Robyn Rogers, the assistant director is Carol Phillips and the choreographer is Samantha Reeves. 

“The music is very challenging. It’s an opera, so it’s solid music,” Rogers said. “It’s like Dr. Seuss; it’s a little different.”

Horowitz said her biggest challenges are keeping track of all the songs since “Seussical” focuses on dancing and singing and the importance of enunciating the lyrics because of the amount of rhymes.

“There are multiple harmonies, so you have to know where you are,” added the 15-year-old girl who is in her first musical at NHS. 

Sophomore Micah Duncan, the son of Rob and Karen, plays the Cat in the Hat, who helps Jojo in her journey to understand the importance of being unique.

“The Cat helps Jojo become a thinker and expands the way she thinks,” said Duncan, whose role required him to learn German, which challenged him with its pronunciation.

Duncan was in the cast of “Oklahoma!” last year.

“For ‘Seussical,’ you have to be excited and out there all the time,” he said, referring to the required energy level.

Logan Hurst played Jud Fry, a farm hand and the villain in “Oklahoma!,” and now takes on Horton the Elephant for “Seussical the Musical.”

“So this is a complete 180 from last year. This year I’m warmhearted,” said the 16-year-old son of Greg and Amy with a chuckle.

The NHS junior shared the importance of Horton and his challenges.

“I’m the thinker of the jungle. I find people on the speck (of dust) and nobody believes me that there is a whole world on this speck of dust,” Hurst said. “That’s when Jojo comes in; she understands the speck of dust.”

As a freshman, he performed in the NHS production of “Mary Poppins.” Hurst said he believes “Suessical” is geared toward a younger audience, compared to other productions the school has done.

Senior Brandi Braker, 18, plays Gertrude McFuzz, who is “painfully in love with Horton.” But the elephant doesn’t notice her. 

“She’s a bird. She has a feather tail; she is very insecure about it,” said the daughter of Steve Braker and Hope Braker.

“That’s my big storyline. I teach acceptance of yourself,” Brandi Braker said.

For the last three years, she has played older women in the NHS musicals.

“Playing a young bird is a big jump,” the teenager said with a laugh. 

Braker said if she equated her Gertrude McFuzz role with real life, the equivalent would be an awkward middle school student.

The “Seussical” cast includes 50 NHS students, fourth-grader Lexie Swick and Colt Rogers, the 20-month-old son of the director.

Robyn Rogers is proud of the hard the students are doing.

“The kids have been doing really well. They’re really beginning to click,” the director said. “They are being more energetic.”

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