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Seussical flashes across the stage

Liberty High’s first musical plays tribute to Dr. Seuss’ works
The Cat in the Hat’s trademark hat sits at the edge of the stage prior to the opening act of “Seussical the Musical,” presented by the Liberty Lightning Theatre department at Liberty High School in North Liberty. The Lightning presented the show, based on the works of Dr. Seuss, Thursday, April 5, through Saturday, April 7, at the Liberty High auditorium. (photo by Chris Umscheid)

NORTH LIBERTY– Liberty High School’s first musical is in the books. The show, “Seussical the Musical,” was the product of a series of books written by Theodor Seuss Geisel, better known as Dr. Seuss.
Stephen Flaherty (music) and Lynn Ahrens (lyrics) took Seuss’ works, such as “Horton Hears a Who,” “The Grinch Who Stole Christmas,” “Horton Hatches the Egg” and others, and crafted them into a musical that opened off Broadway at the Richard Rogers Theatre in New York City in 2000.
According to Broadway Musical Home.com, “Horton hears a noise coming from a speck of dust on a clover and commits himself to protecting it and the Whos who live on it; Jo-Jo, a misfit Who, who ‘doesn’t think normal Thinks,’ struggles to find his place in the tiny Who society; Gertrude McFuzz tries to catch the attention of her love– the kind and compassionate Horton. Through mishaps and adventures, these unique characters finally find what they seek– their places in their world.”
“Robert Williams (Liberty Choir Director and Musical Director of Seussical) and I decided on this production because we wanted our first musical at Liberty to be light and fun,” said Brad Borrison, one of four directors for Liberty’s production. “We have a very young cast (only two juniors and no seniors) and a whimsical children's show matched our cast's age level and theatrical experience. Although our cast is quite young, we have some incredibly talented kids who are going to wow audience's with their voices and stage presence.”
Williams, Borrison said, “is the mastermind of this entire operation. Shannon Knipfer, our production manager/costume and makeup designer has done an amazing job. Jared Kiebel is our technical director and this is his third time working on a production of Seussical. His experience with this show has been invaluable.”
Borrison also gave a shout-out to the theatre parents who started up the Liberty Drama Booster Club. “Their support and hard work getting donations, prepping food for kids, and helping out with aspects of the production have been a huge help,” he added.
Augustin Colon-Sanchez took the role of The Cat in the Hat, Nate Petersen was Jo-Jo, Scott Dill played Horton the Elephant, Katey Halverson was Gertrude McFuzz, Kailey Mackin played Mayzie LaBird, Charlene Njoroge made her theatrical debut as Sour Kangaroo, while Ben Kruger and Lauren Siems were Mr. and Mrs. Mayor. Beau Leavenworth played General Schmitz and Elizabeth Davis was The Grinch. Also in the cast were Ellie Ahrendsen and Marina Eisenmenger (Thing 1 and Thing 2), Abby Fowler, Una Weber and Emma Dreyer (Bird Girls), along with Aaron Schultz, Austin Gordley and Jacob Smith (the Wickersham Brothers). Stefania George was Yurtle, the Turtle, Sophia Cockerham (who also played Vlad Vladikoff), Mia Irving, Camber Oldham, Ella Saunders, Addie Stratton and Kailin Wedmore were the Who Ensemble and Cole Tuttle frequented the stage as a variety of Surprise Miscellaneous Characters. Miria Burns, Elaine Brustkern, Sydney Marks, Caden Piercy and Shane Snapp made up the Jungle Animal Ensemble.
The cast and crew of Seussical filled the 820-seat auditorium with spectacle and sound throughout three performances from Thursday, April 5, through Saturday, April 7.
The auditorium is impressive, Borrison said.
“Acoustically, it is one of the best I’ve ever been in,” he said. “We are so fortunate and grateful to have such an amazing space to practice and perform in.”