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Vincentian students get into character for 'Seussical the Musical'

| Wednesday, Feb. 13, 2013, 9:03 p.m.
North Journal
Vincentian Academy freshman Ania Luckiewicz of Wexford, sophomore Nicole Kosuda of Pine Township and senior Sarah Prins of Gibsonia, playing Bird Girls, practice their lines during a rehearsal for their school's production of “Seussical the Musical” in the 'Theatre for Young Audiences' version. Randy Jarosz | For the North Journal
North Journal
From left, Vincentian Academy freshman Anthony Della Valle of Shaler Township, freshman Breanna Byce of Ross Township and sophomore Louis Cherry of Wexford, playing the Wickersham Brothers, surround sophomore Nathan Smith of Franklin Park, sitting, who is playing Horton the elephant during a rehearsal for the school's production of “Seussical the Musical” in the 'Theatre for Young Audiences' version. Randy Jarosz | For the North Journal
North Journal
Vincentian Academy senior Kristyna Finikiotis of Adams Township, playing the Cat in the Hat, practices lines for the school's production of “Seussical the Musical” in the 'Theatre for Young Audiences' version. Randy Jarosz | For the North Journal
McKnight Journal
Vincentian Academy sophomore Natalie Hanna of Cranberry Township, playing Gertrude McFuzz, practices her lines for the school's production of “Seussical the Musical” in the 'Theatre for Young Audiences' version. Randy Jarosz | For the North Journal
North Journal
Vincentian Academy senior Katherine Hanna, front floor, of Gibsonia, playing Thing 1, and senior Taylor Montanari of Wexford, playing Thing 2, stare at senior Kristyna Finikiotis of Adams Township, playing the Cat in the Hat, while junior Bridget Jones of Wexford, playing Mayzie la Bird, sings during a rehearsal for their school's production of “Seussical the Musical” in the 'Theatre for Young Audiences' version. Randy Jarosz | For the North Journal

Lauren Sarazen couldn't be more pleased that “Seussical the Musical” will be her directorial debut with Vincentian Academy at the end of the month.

“I love the opening number, ‘Oh, the Thinks You Can Think,'” she said. “Everyone's in it, and it sets the tone. I can't stop smiling when they do it.”

She was a natural to step into the role once filled by the now-retired Ken Lutz at the McCandless school. Sarazen had choreographed his later musicals. And knowing the students as she did, it was easy to cast the characters, who come from the world of Dr. Seuss books.

“The leads make them so real, even though their world is fantastical,” said Sarazen, explaining the set designers have outdone themselves, as well.

“Some of the designs are outrageous. They're large and crazy. It'll be a storybook on stage.”

The combination of the show, the set and student talent has put Sarazen, 25, of Ross Township, at ease.

“We have a knack of falling into our roles, and Lauren has a knack of picking,” said Emma Sciullo, 17, a senior from Ross Township.

She'll has traded in last year's green face paint from her role as the Wicked Witch of the West from the production of “The Wizard of Oz” to become Seuss' Sour Kangaroo.

“She's a Tina Turner type,” Sciullo said about the creature that antagonizes the lovable Horton the elephant. “She's loud and in charge.”

Sciullo has no trouble playing the sassy, abrasive character.

“I'm a wild person in general,” she said, “and I get to wiggle. That's the best part of it.”

But it's the singing that Sour Kangaroo does that Sciullo loves.

“I open and rip it,” she said, “like when football players come through the paper banner.”

No one else tried out for the role after Sciullo auditioned, the director said.

“I sound like me,” Sciullo said. “I don't sound like anybody else.”

Sciullo began vocal training as a preteen and discovered she didn't quite fit as a member of a choir.

“I was louder than everybody else,” she said.

But with some songs, such as “Amazing Grace” or “How Great Thou Art,” she said, there's an immediate connection.

“Music I can feel, I can sing,” she said.

Senior Kristyna Finikiotis, 18, of Adams Township, will close her high school acting career with the lead role of the Cat in the Hat.

“I don't play just the Cat in the Hat,” she said. “I play a doctor, a marshal, a manicurist, circus director and a reporter (the Cat takes on many roles).”

With a change of accessory and accent, she becomes them all. A practiced Katie Couric-style voice will help her play the reporter's part.

“My talents and abilities lead me to the crazy, fun roles,” she said. “I get to try new things.”

Finikiotis played the Scarecrow last year and put her own twist on the classic, one of her all-time favorites.

“She's never played a girl. She's always a gender-neutral character. She never gets to be pretty,” Sarazen said with a laugh.

Finikiotis enjoys the dance numbers in “Seussical,” and she's looking forward to interacting with the audience.

“We break the fourth wall of the theater,” she said about talking to the audience, especially the children, and walking among them. She'll invite them to take a more active part in the musical, such as helping to find the Cat's hat.

“All the kids' favorite characters come to life,” she said, as the Cat leads the way.

Dona S. Dreeland is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. She can be reached at 724-772-6353 or ddreeland@tribweb.com.

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