Brandywine students to perform ‘Seussical Jr.’ March 7 to 9

Published 9:52 am Wednesday, March 6, 2019

NILES — After months of hard work, Brandywine students are ready to bring to life the whimsical tales and colorful characters created by Dr. Seuss as they take part in a production of “Seussical Jr.”

The musical story mashup will debut at 7:30 p.m. Thursday at Brandywine Elementary School, 2428 S. 13th St. Additional shows will take place at 7:30 p.m. Friday and 3 p.m. and 7:30 p.m. Saturday. Tickets can be purchased at the door. General admission is $5 and $8 to sit in the first three rows.

Director August Garritano said more than 30 Brandywine students are acting in the play. While it is a high school and middle school production, some elementary school students were also chosen for roles.

Garritano said he chose the play because it brings beloved Dr. Seuss tales together in a creative new way.

“I just think the wonder and the imagination [in the production] presents a very familiar story of Dr. Seuss books that people grew up reading,” Garritano said. “It just kind of meshes them all together. Even if you haven’t seen it, you’re like, ‘Oh, yeah. I know Horton. I know ‘Cat in the Hat.’”

The play was created by Tony-winners Lynn Ahrens and Stephen Flaherty. The story is narrated by the Cat in the Hat and follows the story of Horton the Elephant after he discovers a speck of dust containing Who characters. Horton’s quest involves protecting the Whos from danger while guarding an abandoned egg. Along the way, he meets characters like Jojo, a Who child, who gets in trouble for thinking too many “thinks.”

Liberty Hickok, a seventh grader, is portraying Jojo.

“She is a little girl with a really big imagination,” Hickok said. “She creates Seussical and then jumps into the story.”

Hickok said this is her first show at Brandywine, but that she has acted in a variety of local plays. She described acting as one of her favorite things to do and said her friends encouraged her to try out for the play.

Since being selected for their roles, Hickok said students have been rehearsing, singing and dancing to perfect each scene and musical note.

Abbie Hubbard, an eighth-grader who plays Sour Kangaroo, is also passionate about acting. 

She said her Seussical character is different from the roles she usually plays.

“This is the first time I have played a very mean role,” Hubbard said. “It’s different, but I feel like it is a lot more fun than a happy role.”

Billy Gibson, who stars as the Cat in the Hat, has wanted the role since he was in elementary school. Gibson said he got his start on the stage as Thing One when the production of “Seussical Jr.” first debuted on the Brandywine stage a few years ago. Now a Brandywine High School freshman, Gibson said he saw an opportunity to land the role of the vibrant and eccentric cat, which he likened to his own personality. 

Reflecting on his years in theater, Gibson said he had been taught an appreciation for the art form.

“It’s been really fun doing theater all these years,” he said. “It’s just something that is near and dear to my heart and August has helped out with that. He’s not only been an amazing director but an amazing friend.”

Gibson encouraged the community to support students and see the production.

“If someone is looking for entertainment that is nearby or down the road and they want a good laugh, I would tell them to come see the show,” he said.