After months of practising, the students of Robert Bateman Secondary School’s new musical theatre course are getting excited for their upcoming performance of “Seussical,” a musical based on the stories of Dr. Seuss.
While Robert Bateman has previously staged musicals, this is the first time a musical theatre course has been offered for credits at the school. The new class is taught by drama teacher Jo-Ann Fernandes. It occurs outside of regular school hours and runs four times a week.
The production is co-directed by Ray Dencer, the program’s artist-in-residence, and choreographed by Jordan Allarie.
The cast, including 28 students from Grade 9 to 12, has been practising since September.
The accompaniment will be provided by about 12 music students led by music teacher Kris Werner. The technical crew is also composed of students.
“It’s a really student-oriented production,” said Fernandes.
She said the new program is challenging because many of the students involved have never performed before, and they’re building a new appreciation of what it takes to stage a major production.
The musical combines characters from various Dr. Seuss stories, including the Cat in the Hat, Horton the Elephant, the Grinch, and the Whos.
“Anyone who has grown up with Dr. Seuss will enjoy the musical,” said Dencer, at a dress rehearsal on Saturday. “The whole thing is based on the child’s imagination.”
Kieran Kult plays the Cat in the Hat, the main mischief-maker. He said the experience has been a lot of hard work, but very fulfilling.
“It’s really fun. The Cat is quirky… but bringing that character to life is cool to do.”
Aleena Bonk, who plays Gertrude McFuzz, had never done musical theatre before this performance and has gained a lot from the course.
“It’s ultimately been a growing experience… learning to put myself out there.”
Patrick Schwevrs said he never had expected to do musical theatre and now has one of the lead roles as Mr. Mayor.
“I wasn’t a fan of musical theatre, but this has changed my views.”
Fernandes said her students are enjoying the preparations so much, they are already anticipating next year’s productions.
While the students are looking forward to perform, they hope the community will turn out to see the production.
“It’s fun and lively… It’s great for people young and old,” said Fernandes.
They will perform two shows for local elementary schools. Public performances will be held at the Clarke Theatre in Mission on Feb. 28 at 7:30 p.m., March 1 at 7:30 p.m. and March 2 at 2 p.m.
Tickets are $10, available at the office of Robert Bateman Secondary or at the door.