Danbury, Conn. — Musicals at Richter (MAR), celebrating 33 seasons as the longest-running outdoor theater in Connecticut, continues its 2017 offerings with “Seussical,” the effervescent musical featuring the beloved characters and stories of Dr. Seuss, which plays July 28 – August 12. Staged on the grounds of the Richter Arts Center in Danbury, performances take place outdoors under the stars Friday through Sunday evenings at 8:30 p.m., with additional specially discounted performances on Thursdays August 3 and 10.
With a book drawn from Dr. Seuss’s popular children’s stories and a score by the Tony Award-winning team of Stephen Flaherty and Lynn Ahrens (“Lucky Stiff,” “My Favorite Year,” “Once on This Island,” “Ragtime” and “Anastasia”), “Seussical” lovingly celebrates a host of delightful Dr. Seuss characters, including Horton the Elephant, the Cat in the Hat, Gertrude McFuzz, lazy Mayzie La Bird and Jojo, a little boy with a big imagination. The colorful characters transport us from the Jungle of Nool to the Circus McGurkus to the invisible world of the Whos.
The Cat in the Hat narrates the story of Horton, an elephant who discovers a speck of dust that contains the Whos, including Jojo, a Who child sent off to military school for thinking too many “thinks.” Horton faces a double challenge: not only must he protect the Whos from a world of naysayers and dangers, but he must guard an abandoned egg, left in his care by the irresponsible Mayzie La Bird. Although Horton faces ridicule, danger, kidnapping and a trial, the intrepid Gertrude McFuzz never loses faith in him. Ultimately, the powers of friendship, loyalty, family and community are challenged and emerge triumphant.
“Seussical” opened on Broadway in 2000, starring David Shiner as the Cat, Kevin Chamberlin as Horton, and Anthony Blair Hall and Andrew Keenan-Bolger alternating in the role of Jojo. The production was originally directed by Frank Galati (later replaced by Rob Marshall) and choreographed by Kathleen Marshall. Rosie O’Donnell and Cathy Rigby were two of several celebrity replacements for the Cat during its nearly 200-performance run. The Tony Award and Drama Desk-nominated show enjoyed two U.S. and one U.K. tour, and has become a well-loved staple of regional, school and community theaters.
The production’s upbeat, tuneful score includes: “Oh, The Thinks You Can Think,” “Alone in the Universe,” “Biggest Blame Fool,” “Solla Sollew,” and “How Lucky You Are.”
Directed by MAR Artistic Director Lauren Nicole Sherwood (Stamford), “Seussical” features a number of talented local performers, including many newcomers and MAR veterans. Longtime performer (and MAR Executive Director) Robert Bria (Redding) takes on the role of the mischievous Cat in the Hat, joined by Jesse Goodman (Mahopac, NY) as young Jojo and Daniel Assis (Stamford) as Horton the Elephant.
Carly Post (Katonah, NY) plays Gertrude McFuzz, the shy bird with a one-feathered tail who takes a fancy to Horton. Catiana Tron (Bedford Hills, NY) portrays the flamboyant and glamorous Mayzie La Bird, who is attended by her loyal bird girlfriends Emma Giorgio (Ridgefield), Elizabeth Koennecke (New Canaan), Christina Kompar (Hastings-on-Hudson, NY) and Beth Saultz (Brewster, NY).
Mother-daughter team Aaron-Noel and Samantha-Noel Treppeda (Poughquag, NY) portray the opinionated Sour Kangaroo and Baby Kangaroo. Will Armstrong (Greenwich), Andre Grigorio (Danbury) and Stephen Moores (Brookfield) play the Wickersham Brothers, three acrobatic and energetic monkeys.
Also featured in the cast are Steven Taliaferro (Danbury) and Shannon Grumet (Monroe) as the Mayor and Mrs. Mayor of Whoville. Mike Armstrong (Danbury) takes on the dual roles of General Genghis Khan Schmitz and Yertle the Turtle. Kevin McCarthy (Brewster, NY) is the Grinch, and Emma Lubbers (Mahopac, NY) and Viktoria Wulff-Andersen (Danbury) are Thing One and Thing Two, respectively.
Rounding out the 46-member cast in a variety of roles are: Elizabeth Clayton, Shannon Gondoly, Jacquelyn Matchen, and Jessica and Madeline Olexy (Bethel); Kimberly Armstrong, Dolly Conner, Nicole DeMotte, Rose Giardiello, Emma Jardim, Dara Johnson, Audrey Mercer, Olivia Minor, Viola Minor, Curtis Rodriguez, Brailyn Rodriguez and Hannah Talbott (Danbury); Lainey Grumet (Monroe); Julia Berardo and Susan Gelb (New Fairfield); and Julia Clark (Southbury).
New York State cast members include: Carolyn McCarthy (Brewster, NY); Ruth Post (Katonah, NY); Michaela Milmerstadt (Mahopac, NY); Ciara Cuneo (Patterson, NY); and Mikayla Haran (Somers, NY).
Heading up the “Seussical” creative team is Lauren Nicole Sherwood (Stamford), who is in her fourth season as Artistic Director at MAR. An accomplished director, choreographer and performer, Sherwood most recently directed and choreographed “Little Shop of Hairdos” at Carriage House Arts Center in Norwalk and “Rodgers and Hammerstein’s Cinderella” at Saxe Middle School in New Canaan. She was last seen on stage as Anita in MAR’s critically acclaimed production of “West Side Story” this season. A dedicated theater professional, Sherwood earned her B.F.A. from University of Arizona and an M.F.A. from Florida State University, both in Theater Management.
Sherwood is joined by veteran musical director and conductor Zachary Kampler (Hastings-on-Hudson, NY), who just completed conducting duties for MAR’s production of “West Side Story.” A professor at Westchester Community College, Kampler is the Music Director of the Sound Beach Community Band and Conductor for Saint Catherine’s Players in Greenwich. Kampler has served as Music Director for Staples Players, Bedford Acting Group, Weston High School Company, Binghamton University Theater Department and the Boys & Girls Club Theater Program. He has also conducted The Connecticut Little Symphony, Nickel City Opera, and Crystal Opera, in addition to holding the position of Assistant Conductor with the Stamford Young Artists Philharmonic, Tri-Cities Opera, and Sarasota Opera. A graduate of the Juilliard Pre-College Program, Kampler holds a B.A. in Music from New York University and earned an M.M. in Orchestral Conducting with a concentration in Opera, from SUNY Binghamton.
The “Seussical” creative team also includes set and lighting designer Jake Liam McGuire (Brewster, NY); Lauren Nicole Sherwood coordinates costumes for the production. Katie Girardot (New Fairfield) serves as stage manager, Denise Milmerstadt (Mahopac, NY) is assistant stage manager and Joyce Northrop (Danbury) is producer.
Following “Seussical,” the Richter season concludes with the Summer Youth Musical Theater Workshop student production of “Aladdin, Jr.” August 17-19.
“Seussical” performances are Friday through Sunday evenings July 28-August 12 at the Richter Arts Center (next to the Richter Park Golf Course, I-84, Exit 2), 100 Aunt Hack Road, in Danbury. Tickets for “Seussical” are $20 for adults, $15 for seniors and students (with ID), and $10 for children 10 and under. For the additional Thursday performances on August 3 and 10, tickets are $15 for adults, $10 for seniors and students and $5 for children 10 and under. Tickets may be purchased through the Musicals at Richter website (www.musicalsatrichter.org) or at the door.
Grounds open at 7:15 p.m. for picnicking, with curtain at 8:30 p.m. Audience members are encouraged to bring their own chairs or blankets for seating. Group rates are available with advance reservation; chair rentals and soft drink/snack concessions are available on-site.
About Musicals at Richter: Nestled in the hills of Western Connecticut, the Arts Center stage has served as the scenic backdrop for over 75 musicals produced by Musicals at Richter, as well as a professional springboard for hundreds of up-and-coming performers. Musicals at Richter is a 501 (c) (3) nonprofit organization run by volunteers. For further information, visit the website at www.musicalsatrichter.org, leave a message at 203-748-6873 or e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org.