The musical is the result of the Junior Arts Summer workshop in which kids and young adults ages 5-21 participate in the theater arts.
July 23-July 30. $12-$14 Village Square Theatre. 105 Caughman Ave. villagesquaretheatre.com.
Rhyming, whimsy and an explosion of color hit the stage for “Seussical the Musical Jr.” at Village Square Theatre starting Sunday and running for eight days. The musical is the result of the Junior Arts Summer workshop in which kids and young adults ages 5-21 participate in the theater arts.
“This is our 16th year doing this,” said Debra Leopard, director of the play and artistic director at the local community theater. “It’s the full ‘Seussical Jr.,’ and a lot of kids haven’t been on stage before. They’ve been working so hard.”
“We started around the fourth of June and they’ve been working a lot and working with professionals,”she added. “Five times a week and weekends and weeknights. Sometimes two rehearsals a night.”
The participants are able to learn about musical theater by participating in a real community theater from start to finish. This includes acting techniques, basic dance steps and musical terminology, singing in parts, character development and taking direction, according to the theater’s website.
The family-friendly production is great for all ages, including younger kids, as the show runs an hour not including the intermission, Leopard posited.
Not only are the costumes whimsical, the characters are all recognizable. For instance, Horton the elephant is not in a full body elephant costume, but he has the elephant ears and overalls, and the Cat in the Hat has the recognizable attire.
“If you read Dr. Seuss books, you recognize them,” says Leopard. “The set is fun, bright and definitely whimsical.”
The original Broadway show, which has been performed across the country at many other theaters, is not a traditional musical as there’s not much dialogue, explained Leopard.
But the songs tell a story, there’s a good message and it’s a musical adventure, she said.
Themes of friendship, loyalty and love run through the play, teaching the power of being unique and thinking the things you think.
Leopard said there are a lot of talented people in the Lexington County area who have worked for many years in theater. With “Seussical Jr.,” she was able to work with kids she has seen grow up and others who were new to her.
“I’ve got a couple I’ve been working with since they were little and now are graduating and off to college,” she said.
There’s a mixed group of kids, all of whom have a part in the play, including young people from Lexington, Columbia, Chapin and Gilbert.
“If kids are interested [in next year’s summer workshop] you have to get a spot as soon as you can,” Leopard said, explaining that enrollment begins Jan. 1 and it’s “very popular.”
In addition to the summer workshop, the theater also has classes in September, allowing kids to wet their feet in the theater.
“A number of kids took classes and then did the workshop,” Leopard said. “It gave them more confidence and it’s a good way to see if they will like it and see what it’s all about.”
“I love to see kids explore the arts,” she added. “Kids need a place to fit in.”
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