Seussical brings Broadway to Wapak

“Oh the thinks you can think,” when Dr. Seuss’s best-loved stories collide and cavort in an unfortgettable musical caper.

The off-Broadway production of Seussical is being presented at the Wapakoneta Performing Arts Center at 4 p.m. Sunday, Feb. 26, by a professional touring company out of New York and features enhanced scenic and costume elements.

Wapakoneta Performing Arts Center Coordinator Pam Egbert said she found the off Broadway play when she attended the Ohio Arts Presenters Convention in Columbus in the fall of 2010.

“I loved the presentation they had and we talked about how they could help a new facility such as ours and how I could make it affordable for our local residents,” Egbert said.

She said it took almost six months, but they were able to find a date that didn’t interfere too much with activities on the school calendar and when the touring company would be in the area with the show, as it is less expensive to offer such a program when they are traveling through the region.

Egbert said despite efforts to sway her toward other Theaterworks productions, she was set on Seussical.

“I wanted to bring a program to our Performing Arts Center that would be appealing to all ages,” Egbert said. “Who doesn’t like Dr. Seuss?”

The production features 12 actors and enhanced production values as Theatreworks’ biggest show ever and is adapted from the Broadway version by Broadway veterans Lynn Ahrens and Stephen Flaherty in a version appropriate for young audiences.

The Cat in the Hat is the host, emcee and all-around mischief maker in this romp through the Seuss classics. When the sweet, good-natured elephant, Horton, hears a small cry for help coming from a small speck of dust, he promises to rescue and guard it because “a person’s a person no matter how small.”

On that small speck of dust lives JoJo, an imaginative young Who. JoJo has astounding thinks, in which anything’s possible, but his parents believe this creativity is inappropriate for the son of the mayor of Who-Ville.

Meanwhile, the one-feathered bird, Miss Gertrude McFuzz, desperately wants Horton to notice her. Maybe, she thinks, she just needs a more impressive tail. At the same time, the amazingly lazy Mayzie La Bird connives, cajoles and convinces Horton to sit on her egg while she goes off on a spree.

Will the planet of Who survive? Will Horton pay attention to Gertrude? Will Mayzie ever return for her egg?

Dr. Seuss’s beloved classic characters find themselves intertwined in an incredible crazy-quilt adventure, in which the power of imagination and the most miraculous “think” ever save the day!

Beginning its national tour in 2006, Seussical has been nominated for honors for outstanding revival, outstanding musical revival, outstanding choreography and outstanding costumes. An original cast recording of the production also has been released.

New York Times reviewers have described it as a whimsical charmer of a show and an engaging musical for all ages.

Egbert said the show is entertaining for audiences of all ages and she’s already sold tickets to local residents in their 80s.

“Why not?” Egbert said. “This is for everybody. It is acting, singing and dancing all for a low ticket price. Where are you going to go that you can see an off Broadway show for $25?”

Tickets are on sale now in the Wapakoneta High School office or by calling the high school, they may be purchased and reserved with a credit card. Doors open the day of the show at 3:30 p.m.

“The only way I can keep doing shows like this is with the support of the community and local area,” Egbert said. “We want to do plays that are not normally seen around here.

“Sure you can drive to Niswonger Center in Van Wert, which is 45 minutes away, or the Lima Civic Center, which is 30 minutes away, but we want to do shows that are right here using the beautiful Performing Arts Center,” she said.

To date, a Kent Boyd show at the center has been able to pay for shows since, but Egbert is hoping to get more people excited about all the opportunities the center provides and the high quality of shows being presented there.

“Already, we’re looking toward next year, but we need to see interest,” Egbert said. “We’re not out to make money.

“Tickets are priced to pay the bills,” she said. “We’re here to bring shows to Wapakoneta as a service. This is the best thing that’s ever happened to the school system and this area.”

Not only is the Wapakoneta Performing Arts Center busy hosting performances, but Egbert also is able to provide unique internship opportunities through her role. High school computer and technology classes are working on projects for the center and art classes are developing advertisements.

“We’re giving them experiences,” Egbert said. “People don’t understand, they don’t see behind the scenes.”

She said during the holiday season, school productions were held in the center almost daily and the Wapakoneta Fire Department used the site for an EMT training conference.

“It is being used for every area of community events,” Egbert said. “We love that we have a facility such as this that can be used for conferences, Broadway productions, elementary plays, band and choir concerts, dance recitals and anything else we can produce.

“We’re bringing the arts to the community,” she said. “We’re bringing stories and performances to life.”