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Theatre Guild’s ‘Seussical’ sure to delight audiences

 

Cast members of “Seussical” promote the show outside the Lincoln Cultural Center during the Art Crawl.

Cast members of “Seussical” promote the show outside the Lincoln Cultural Center during the Art Crawl.

JENNA-LEY HARRISON

Staff Writer

 

From flashy costumes and an elaborately-decorated set to catchy tunes performed by a dancing cast, the Lincoln Theatre Guild’s production this month of “Seussical” is sure to capture the hearts and imaginations of all ages in the community.

Performances will be 7 p.m. Friday and Saturday and 3 p.m. Sunday in the Lincoln Cultural Center’s Timken Performance Hall.

The play will showcase the story of a young boy, “Jo-Jo,” played by North Lincoln Middle School seventh grader Foster Williamson, and the quirky different Dr. Seuss characters that fill his imagination when he’s alone — his recent behavior perplexing his parents.

The musical cast includes a number of famous faces from Dr. Seuss’s most popular books including the “Cat in the Hat,” “Horton the Elephant,” “Thing One and Two,” “Cindy Lou Who” and the well-known, grumpy Christmas character the “Grinch,” played by Lincolnton resident Raymond Davis.

The production is his first with the local Theatre Guild since he opted out of “Scrooge” last year once his wife became ill, he said.

And there was never any doubt the “Grinch” would be the best fit for the actor in “Seussical.”

“Some of the kids (in the cast) said when they first met me that I looked like the Grinch,” Davis said, grinning from ear-to-ear to showoff his eerily similar smile.

Cast and crew spent many hours piecing together the production from set design and costume design to working with local vocal coaches to ensure actors could incorporate four-part harmonies into the show.

Director Pete DeGregory, whose wife April and daughters Sarah and Rebecca are also part of the production, taking part in roles behind the scenes, believed the play offered some of the most complex harmonies he has ever heard in his 25 years of theatre.

“It’s the most intricate vocal I have ever seen,” he said.

The entire community united for the large-scale production.

“Everything had to be created for this (play) because it didn’t exist,” DeGregory said.

North Lincoln High School donated microphones, Cherryville Area Ministries and Thrift Shop offered discounted clothing for costumes, and Tuxedo West in Lincolnton donated a tuxedo for the “Cat in the Hat.”

One of the owners of “Alterations and Sew Much More” in Lincolnton constructed the entire elephant outfit for “Horton,” from his fuzzy, polka-dotted overalls to his long trunk and oversized ears.

Lowe’s Home Improvement in Lincolnton donated lumber for the set, which Emmitt Poole and Roger Goodson — husbands of Theatre Guild Board Members Kathy Goodson, treasurer, and Sharon Poole, president — built in seven days.

Gregory said he had little time himself to prepare for the show before taking on the role of director, which was offered to him after the previous director could no longer fill the position, he said.

“They called us on a Saturday, and we started on a Monday,” DeGregory said of him and his family, who often participate together on theatre sets.

The seasoned director and actor has also served a number of theatre roles over the years, taking a long hiatus from the hobby prior to 2012, when he got back into the gig that summer with a performance in “Grease.”

“Seussical” includes a 35-member cast and just enough lines, he said, to keep it from being an opera.

“It’s his (Dr. Suess) stories mashed together and set to music,” DeGregory noted.

Lincolnton resident Jennifer Michaels, who performs in various productions during the year at both the Cultural Center and the Green Room in Newton, said the show was both “fun” and “silly.”

She will be acting in the musical alongside her niece Shaelyn Griffin, a fifth grader at Sherrills Ford Elementary School.

Both play kangaroos — Michaels “Sour Kangaroo” and Griffin “Young Kangaroo.”

“We have a lot of attitude,” Michaels said of their characters.

She even made the pair’s striking purple and brown costumes, which include 3-D tails filled with pillow stuffing.

Perhaps most unique are the hair-dos of each of the show’s “Whos.”

Cast members, including homeschooled eighth grader Caitlin Hager, had to stuff their hair with plastic water bottles and sponges to keep their locks tall and in place.

Her brother Christopher Hager is also in the play, filling the role of one of the three “Cadets” involved in the show’s “butter war.”

Characters battle over how to properly butter a piece of toast — whether it should be placed on the top or bottom of the bread.

DeGregory encouraged the community to come out and enjoy one of the play’s six showings.

“This is such a major production,” he said. “I’ve never seen a production so elaborate.”

“Seussical” will additionally be performed 7 p.m. April 4 and 5 and 3 p.m. April 6.

Cost is $10 for adults and $7 for students and seniors. To purchase advance tickets, visit lincolntheatreguild.com or call the Cultural Center at (704) 732-9055. Tickets will also be available at the door.

Tickets have already sold out for the final performance — purchased by a North Carolina Grassroots Grant the Arts Council of Lincoln County provided, Kathy Goodson said.

First Federal Savings Bank is additionally sponsoring the play.

 

 

Image courtesy of Jaclyn Anthony / Lincoln Times-News

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