The Cat in the Hat Tells All: A Behind the Scenes Look at HFC’s production of “Seussical the Musical”

Image of  “Seussical the Musical” cartoon characters

“I do not like green eggs and ham. I do not like them Sam I Am.” This November, the magical world of Dr. Seuss will come to life right here at Henry Ford College. “Seussical the Musical” follows the classic Seuss story of “Horton Hears a Who,” and his zany adventure in the Jungle of Nool. Don’t forget about the Whos down in Whoville, because they’re in the show too. You can expect to see a few other familiar characters, one of them being the mischievous Cat in the Hat. He’s a quirky old soul and a bit unruly. He will serve as your narrator, and be played by yours truly.

This show is huge, and it will take a lot of us to pull it off. There are 30 songs, energetic dance numbers, and crazy scenes keeping us all on our toes.We are currently working with more than 50 actors, and have partnered with the Dearborn Youth Theater to ensure we have every role covered. To give everyone a chance to shine on stage, many of the main characters have been double-cast.

Mary F. Bremer-Beer, the director of Seussical, has been a teacher at HFC for seven years. She received her Master’s Degree, BFA and MFA in theatre from the University of Detroit, and is known for her work on the critically-acclaimed musical, “Hairspray,” in 2015, at HFC. Her favorite aspect of this show is “the wonderful message: Dr. Seuss encourages peace, kindness, imagination and love.” The most difficult part of this show is that “it’s a large musical, it’s more of an operetta. It involves people of all ages, from 2-85. It’s a big undertaking, but it relates to all ages and charms the audience because it involves many of your favorite Seuss characters.” Bremer-Beer says, “Everyone loves the Cat, Horton’s a sweetheart, Gertrude personifies kindness, and for entertainment value, my favorite is Mayzie.” What Bremer-Beer hopes the audience will take away from this show is “happiness, and the many lessons learned about responsibility, peace and love.”

As the Cat in the Hat, this is my second show at HFC, and I couldn’t be more excited. Last winter, I had the opportunity to play the lead in “Blithe Spirit,” which was an amazing, yet challenging undertaking. I’m happy to have the chance to bring the experience and knowledge I have gained from last year into this show. I have wanted to be part of “Seussical” for more than six years. I saw a professional production in Ohio and instantly fell in love with it! Being selected as the Cat in the Hat is like a dream come true. I’ve always loved his sly behavior and devious ways. What I am most looking forward to is the chance to narrate this enchanting story for our audience. This show usually brings in a large crowd, a lot of them being children. There is something magical about performing for children. Particularly a story that is so well known and liked. For little ones, the line of make-believe and reality is blurred, so I’m excited to see their reactions and how they appreciate it. The toughest part for me so far with this show has been the singing. It’s been a few years since I have been in a musical, so I’m working on getting my singing voice back. It’s a challenge, but one I am enjoying every step of the way. On the days where I’m not playing the Cat in the Hat, I will be filling in as one of the Whos.

Tom Peck, a second-year student at HFC, is playing the lead role of Horton the Elephant. Also having previously acted in “Blithe Spirit,” Peck wasted no time in getting back on stage. Peck said he was most excited to “be playing Horton, and being a lead in a play!” He stated the hardest part of this production has been “corralling all the people.” With the amount of costumes, characters and intricate set, Seussical is an incredibly large production, with an even larger cast, and getting everyone to work in sync has been no easy task. Peck plans to use this experience to work towards his Associates in Theatre, with hopes of becoming a theatre teacher one day.

The role of the Mayor’s Wife in Whoville, will be played by sophomore Kennedy Cooper. This is her seventh show at HFC, with some of her more recent work being “Blithe Spirit,” “Hairspray,” and “The Diviners.” Cooper is excited “to be working with people I’ve worked with in shows before, and new people too.” Cooper said the most difficult part so far has been “remembering the lyrics in combination with the dance steps.” When she isn’t playing the Mayor’s Wife, you will see Cooper on stage as one of the exotic bird girls.

Ana Pauli, a sophomore at HFC, is staying busy with Seussical this year. She has taken on the role of Dance Captain, ensuring the group stays on beat. On certain nights you will see her on stage as one the leading characters, Jojo. When she’s not filling the shoes of the little Who with a big voice, she will be joining Cooper in the flock of bird girls. This is her second show on campus, having been a part of “Shooting Stars” last spring. To Pauli, the most exciting part of this production is “meeting new people in college, and having them become my closest friends. Also, getting out of my comfort zone, because normally I wouldn’t sing in front of people.”

This is just a handful of the students at HFC who are working diligently to make “Seussical the Musical” the best show it can be for you, the audience. The memorable stories, hilarious moments, wacky characters and heart-warming life lessons make this is a show for everybody, of any age. Come join us next month, and watch the classic stories of the unforgettable Dr. Seuss unfold before your eyes. Don’t forget to look for me, your mischievous host, the Cat in the Hat. “A lot of good tricks, I will show them to you. Your mother will not mind at all if I do.”

“Seussical the Musical,” directed by Mary F. Bremer-Beer, will be held in the Adray Auditorium located in the MacKenzie Fine Arts Center, building F. It will run for two weekends: Nov. 10, 11, 12, and 17, 18, 19. Friday and Saturday performances start at 8:00 p.m., and Sunday matinees begin at 2:00 p.m. Tickets will cost $15 for general admission, and $10 for faculty and students with ID.