Arts and Entertainment

Redmond Middle takes on popular author in upcoming production of ‘Seussical Jr.’

With his zany characters, nonsensical rhymes and colorful illustrations, Dr. Seuss has been a longtime favorite among young readers and next week, students from Redmond Middle School (RMS) will be taking on his work in their production of “Seussical Jr.”

From the Cat in the Hat, Thing One and Thing Two, to Horton the Elephant, Gertrude McFuzz and the Whos of Whoville, the show includes a number of Seuss’s characters, stories and plots.

This is the third time director Kelly Willis has done the show and she is finding the experience as enjoyable as her first encounter.

“I thought I was going to be tired of it,” she said.

Willis said seeing the students experience the musical for the first time is what makes the job new again.

“They’re having a great time,” she said.

Willis said “Seussical Jr.” has about 47 student actors from sixth, seventh and eighth grades. In addition, she said another 10 students are working backstage on the set, props and other aspects of the production.

Willis, who founded Redmond Academy of Theatre Arts (RATA), has had more experience Dr. Seuss as a parent reading to her kids and said one of the reasons he is so popular may be because his writing offers life lessons in a comical and nonsensical way that make it fun.

Seventh-grader Rafael de Leon, who plays Horton, agreed.

“I believe that his books have meaningful messages that children can interpret easily,” he said.

“Seussical Jr.” is de Leon’s first time acting and he said he definitely wants to continue after this. He said he likes playing a character who is completely different from himself.

Like de Leon, seventh-grader Ryanne Rockafield enjoys acting because she gets to play different characters. As the Sour Kangaroo, her character’s personality is a lot different from those she has played in the past.

“I get to have attitude,” she said about her role.

While de Leon is making his acting debut next week, Rockafield and other students have performed in multiple productions.

Eighth-grader Ben Broughton, who plays the Cat in the Hat, has acted in a number of shows with Studio East in Kirkland and wants to continue doing so.

“I definitely want to pursue it,” he said.

Broughton used to read Dr. Seuss with his dad when he was younger and said one of the reasons the author is so well loved may be because he encourages readers to “step out of the box” and not be afraid of being different.

RMS’s production of “Seussical Jr.” will be showing at the Performing Arts Center at 17272 N.E. 104th St. in Redmond. Performances will be at 7 p.m. on Jan. 31 and Feb. 1-2 and 2:30 p.m. on Feb. 2.

Tickets are $8 for adults and $5 for RMS students and children younger than 12. To purchase tickets in advance, contact Lisa Lange at tl.lange@comcast.net or (425) 444-7404.

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