Think invisible ink!Or a Gink with a stink!Or a stair to the sky...”
More than a dozen Charlotte-Mecklenburg Schools students stretched their muscles and their voices as they warmed up on the Theatre Charlotte stage on Sunday, Sept. 27. Thirteen students were part of the “Seussical” cast, one of the largest groups of CMS students to be in a Theatre Charlotte production.
“It’s crazy, it’s so different from what I’m used to with my school productions,” said Kelly Wright, a senior at Providence High. “This was a lot more in-depth of a show and we only had a month from auditions to opening night, so it was tough.”
Kelly was in the ensemble, where she played an animal in the Jungle of Nool, a Who, a fish and a circus character. She said the production was a big step for her career. “I got my foot in the door and I met a lot of new people. I got my name out there with directors and choreographers.”
CMS students in the production attend 10 different schools. The oldest are seniors in high school and the youngest is in fourth grade at Barringer Academic Center. Eli Newman played the part of JoJo, one of the lead characters. This was his first part in a major production.
“It’s been fun, but it’s also been really hard,” he said. “I had to go to school all day, then come to the theatre to practice every night.”
Eli sang and danced his way across the stage during the show’s 14 performances, interacting with the Cat in the Hat, Horton the Elephant, the Bird Girls and the rest of the Whos.
"It's always great to work with CMS students," said Theatre Charlotte Executive Director Ron Law, who also directed “Seussical”. "Many of them have worked on productions at their own schools, but it's exciting to introduce them to theatre on a larger scale, to see them grow as performers and as students."
“Seussical” is a musical created from elements of Dr. Seuss books, including “Horton Hears a Who,” “Horton Hatches an Egg,” “The Cat in the Hat,” “How the Grinch Stole Christmas,” “I had Trouble in Getting to Solla Sollew,” and more.
Three other main characters are the Wickersham Brothers, a trio of rowdy monkeys who cause some trouble for Horton and the Whos. The brothers are played by three CMS high school seniors. George Barrett attends East Mecklenburg High, Robert Blanton attends Myers Park High, and Devontae White attends the International Studies School at Garinger. “Seussical” was the first Theatre Charlotte production for all three young men.
“It’s the first time I have been in a show that’s not related to school,” Devontae said. “The best part was meeting new people who go to all different schools. And now we’re all friends.”
Devontae hopes to study psychology or musical theatre in college – or both. He said he’d definitely recommend acting to other students. “It gives people an opportunity to meet people they probably wouldn’t have met otherwise. You get to spend time with people who have the same interests as you.”
Kelly agreed and said other students should definitely try out for shows across Charlotte. “It’s scary. I was terrified at the audition, but it was worth it. It’s been so different from what I was used to, but it’s worth it, and now I know this is what I want to do for the rest of my life.”
Other CMS students who appeared in “Seussical” include:
-Abigale Corrigan, a sixth grader at Northwest School of the Arts
-Nicholas DeLaCanal, a junior at Myers Park High
-Amy Douglass, a senior at Ardrey Kell High
-Andrew Griner, Jr., a sophomore at Northwest School of the Arts
-Julia Kelly, a sixth grader at A.G. Middle
-Matt Mitchell, a sixth grader at Northwest School of the Arts
-Avery Primis, a fourth grader at Sharon Elementary
-Caylie Sickles, a fifth grader at Hawk Ridge Elementary
“If you open your mind,Oh, the thinks you will findLining up to get loose...
Oh, the thinks you can think!When you think about Seuss!”