Actors tall and small walked about the stage dressed as Whos and girl-birds and Things, while members of the New Stage Players theater troupe inspected each costume and prop for abnormalities or loose strings.
The colorfully adorned auditorium stage at South Sioux City Middle School appeared like a page right out of a Dr. Seuss book. That’s no accident. Why that’s precisely how “Seussical” director Deb Morgan wanted it to look.
I spoke with the woman-in-charge a week prior to the musical’s release. She said it was coming along well, audiences are sure to be pleased.
Alright, enough rhyming.
New Stage Players’ production of “Seussical” is one that should be familiar for Morgan. In addition to her many years of experience in theater throughout Siouxland, the director also helped put on a “Seussical Jr.” show in 2009 at South Sioux City Middle School.
In fact, remnants from that past show have made their way into this one. While constructing the set, Morgan’s husband found cutouts of Truffula Trees from the 2009 production. They are now part of the current play’s set and served as a reference for the set builders.
“It gave me a jumping off point for the stage,” said Morgan.
“Seussical” is the third play by New Stage Players, an up-and-coming amateur theater troupe looking to make South Sioux City its home. The show is also the team’s first musical.
“’Seussical’ is wonderful because it’s suitable for all ages to watch,” she said. “There’s humor that transcends age.”
And it shows in the play’s cast. “There’s a part for everybody in the musical,” Morgan added.
For instance, a 71-year-old actor plays the part of General Genghis Khan Schmitz, a character who wages war against people who eat bread butter side up. Meanwhile Morgan’s own 3-year-old grandson makes his stage debut as a Who, a resident of the fantasy town of Whoville. An adaptation to the show has allowed a wheelchair-bound child actress to play as a Who in a marching band.
“We are turning her wheelchair into a one-man-band,” said Morgan. “It’s very cool.”
Having served as music director in New Stage Players’ “A Charlie Brown Christmas” and helped with costumes in “Tony n’ Tina’s Wedding,” Morgan is up to the challenge to complete the theater troupe’s first musical.
“Musicals are a lot more expensive than a straight play,” said Morgan. “If we can pull this off, it will show that we are ready to go on and we do can anything.”
The success of New Stage Players’ production of “Seussical” is important – there’s no doubt about that. Who can resist a show with such characters like Horton the Elephant, Gertrude McFuzz and the Cat in the Hat?
“If we can pull off a large scale musical like this, it will be a really big step forward for us,” she said. “And I think we’re going to do it. I should say I’m sure we’re going to do it.”