LaGrange students ready for first musical

By By Nichole Osinski / American Press

After receiving more than 12,000 votes, competing against more than a thousand other schools and months of rehearsals, LaGrange

High School students are ready to perform in their first musical.

After placing third in “NBC’s ‘SMASH’ Make a Musical” contest last year, the students will perform “Seussical Jr.” Showtimes

are 2 and 7 p.m. Saturday and 2 p.m. Sunday at the LaGrange High School auditorium.

The Saturday performance falls on Dr. Seuss’ birthday — March 2.

The performance, a scaled-down version

of Broadway’s “Seussical” musical, brings together well-known characters

from Dr. Seuss’

books. The whimsical plot, narrated by The Cat in the Hat, will be

acted out by students act playing the parts of Horton the

Elephant, Jungle of Nool animals and the tiny Whos.

“Because it had a lot of characters, we

felt like we could get more kids involved in it,” said choral director

Janie Williams.

“And when I found there was a lot more singing than dialogue, I

figured that would be really, really good for our kids because

a lot of them are vocally talented.”

Williams, along with theater director Shelly Buller, entered the school into the nationwide contest last spring. The contest’s

aim was to help under served schools by helping them create a maintainable musical theater program, they said.

After being selected as a top 30

semi-finalist in March 2012, more than 12,000 votes landed LaGrange in

the top 10 of vote-getters.

The school received the grand prize of a Broadway Junior ShowKit

that included the rights to perform a musical, a local adviser,

teacher stipends, a technical theater fund, and two master classes

with iTheatrics’ New York-based choreographer Steven G.

Kennedy.

Kennedy helped prepare students and the school’s directors for the upcoming show. He instructed them in the best ways to work

with each other. He also had students go through various choreography and stage presence exercises.

Buller said they were given a list of

about 10 musicals from which to choose — she said part of the reason

they picked “Seussical

Jr.” was because it is book based.

“We thought it would be a good opportunity to showcase some literature,” she said.

D’Ijana Maddox, a 12th-grader, plays a

bird in the musical and has enjoyed the process of learning new songs,

practicing dialogue

and getting closer to her castmates.

“We’ve got a lot of new things to put in our school for the musical and a lot of new costumes,” she said. “Everything is really

well put together and everybody is very much looking forward to it.”

The musical has also given first-hand experience to students interested in making a career out of theater. The high schoolers

have taken on the roles of actors, stage hands and assistants — a conglomeration of abilities for one outcome.

“The students have poured their heart and soul into this project,” Buller said. “They’re enjoying themselves and I know this

is a good opportunity for them and it’s going to help open doors for their future.”

Tickets cost $5 and can be purchased by calling the school at 217-4960/