GROTON, Conn. – Military children attending Mary Morrisson Elementary School had the opportunity to put their acting skills on display in a play based on the works of Dr. Seuss, May 9 -10.
The play, called "Seussical Kids," was directed by Sandra Hall and Kirsten DeMaio, teachers at Mary Morrisson and quickly gained support among students, parents and teachers alike as a school-wide effort.
"We are pretty sure this is the first time in about 15 years this school has done a musical," said DeMaio. "It’s really been huge for us. The stage here hasn’t been used normally, so this was a big change for the whole school. Mrs. Hall came to me. She was previously a music teacher and said she would love to do a musical at this school and asked if I would do it with her. I said absolutely and we just went after it!"
DeMaio explained a little about the content of the play itself and how the school prepared for it.
"It’s a composite of a bunch of his different stories, so we have characters like Horton the elephant and the Cat in the Hat, Judge Yurtle the Turtle," said DeMaio. "In one of the songs you’ll see the fish from ‘One Fish Two Fish’ and there’s an elephant bird! We started in February and held auditions. We had 35 total for the whole cast."
Two members of the cast, Olivia and Divya, both age 10, shared their experiences working on "Seussical Kids."
"The play is about an adventure through the wonderful land of Seuss and going through a lot of the Dr. Seuss books," said Olivia. "Books like ‘Green Eggs and Ham’ and ‘Horton Hears a Who.’ I play the Mayor and Divya plays Jojo. I’m Jojo’s dad, too. I’m in charge of Whoville and always yelling at Divya, who plays Jojo, because he is always thinking. In one scene Jojo was thinking so much he let the bathtub overflow and flood the den downstairs; not very good at focusing."
Divya talked about her character and the part she plays in the musical as well as expressing her gratitude to her teachers for getting to be part of such a fun, exciting event.
"Jojo has a wild mind," said Divya. "She believes if she thinks about something enough it will come alive. She has a lot of trouble in school because of her thoughts. That’s why the mayor gets angry at my character. Me and Horton share the thinking and the wild imagination together. At the end I save Whoville by saying ‘Stop!’ so they could hear us and see that the Who’s are real and Horton isn’t crazy. I’m so glad Miss Hall and Miss DeMaio decided to make up this musical and I’m so glad to be in it! I thank all the teachers and parents who helped make Seussical come alive."
The show played three times, two on May 9 and the following evening, Friday, May 10. Seating was limited so a ticket was required for entry, but the tickets were free. DeMaio said the tickets went quickly as parents clamored to see their kids perform.
"We had 200 tickets," said DeMaio. "They were free, but we only had so much space and so many seats. We started giving out tickets at the beginning of the week and were out in a couple days! We’re planning another play next year, we just aren’t sure if it will be fall and spring or just spring."
Mary Morrisson Elementary is located just two miles from Naval Submarine Base New London and attended by many Navy kids and forms part of the Southeastern Connecticut Navy Community.