Cats in hats

Published 12:00 am Tuesday, March 25, 2008

For the last several weeks, Demopolis High School theatre II students have been taking a few lessons in whimsy as they prepare for their production of MTI SHOWS International&8217;s Seussical Jr.

The show, which opens today for Westside Elementary School students, combines Dr. Seuss characters and stories. Horton the elephant from such memorable tales as &8220;Horton Hears a Who&8221; and &8220;Horton Hatches the Egg&8221; will be on stage with other Dr. Suess classics like the Cat in the Hat.

DHS drama teacher Jody White, who directs the show, said she and the cast have prepared diligently for opening night.

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With a cast of more than 30, even the simple task of directing the flow of characters on and off the stage is amplified. But this hasn&8217;t stopped them from continuing to push on, because for a select few, this show means a little more than a light-hearted romp with one of America&8217;s favorite storytellers.

For seniors Catie Cole, who plays the Cat in the Hat; Amanda Howerton, who plays Mayzie la Bird, Matt Noland, who plays Horton; and Justin Midgordon, John Haisty, and Drew Tucker who play the Wickersham Brothers; this will be their final theater show before graduation in May. Although this will be their last high school play, Midgordon, Haisty and Tucker have all received full scholarships to Shelton State&8217;s Theatre Department.

Another unique aspect about this student-driven play is students were instructed to design and make their own costumes. Although White secured a few accessories for her cast, each striped pair of leggings and brightly colored jumper was hand-picked by the person wearing it onstage.

The production has also been helped along with the efforts of DHS senior Jamey Hurst, who designed and constructed the set. Derrick Robertson of Advantage Sound has provided generous support to the technical aspects of the production.

The show is also a partnership between the University of West Alabama&8217;s Department of Fine Arts. John Brown, UWA Director of Choral Music and DANA teaching artists has been an integral part in developing the play.

Demopolis High School graduates Chris Jenkins and Virginia Gremmels, who are now UWA students, have also participated in the partnership between the schools. Jenkins designed and implemented a new lighting system, and Gremmels plays the part of Gertrude McFuzz.

Seussical the Musical is being funded by the Demopolis City Schools Foundation, The Alabama Black Belt Arts Education Initiative and the DANA Foundation. All performances are being dedicated to the memory of Hugh Lloyd for his commitment to community arts education and the Demopolis City School&8217;s Foundation.

Performances for the general public are at 7 p.m. on March 28 and 29, and at 2 p.m. on March 30. A special guest performance at the University of West Alabama is at 7 p.m. on April 1 in Bibb Graves Auditorium.