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Hampton church show to bring Dr. Seuss characters to life

| Wednesday, Feb. 12, 2014, 9:01 p.m.

Cast members of all ages are discovering the truth behind the lyrics “oh, the things you can think, when you think about Seuss” in St. Paul's United Methodist Church's first stage production of “Seussical JR.”

The cast, which includes members of St. Paul's church and community members, are using their imaginations, talents and an array of costumes and sets to bring Dr. Seuss' classic characters to life on stage in the musical performance at the Hampton church Feb. 21 and 22.

Tom Taylor, director of music and worship ministries at the church, helped create a theatrical tradition at the church more than three decades ago to bring the congregation and community together.

“I've just found that it gives people a chance to start becoming involved in church activities at an early age,” said Taylor of Etna.

“We have choirs for all ages, but this gives us a chance for everyone to come together in a church-wide event and allows them to do something different than the sacred music we do Sunday mornings.”

The Cat in the Hat opens “Seussical JR.,” which follows the story of Horton the Elephant who vows to protect the speck of dust on which live the Whos in Whoville and then also an abandoned egg left by Mayzie La Bird while facing ridicule from a cast of characters.

“It's Dr. Seuss, so it's charming and sweet,” said Michael Drnach, 51, of Franklin Park, of the musical. “It's so ingenious the way they do everything.”

Drnach, who plays Horton the Elephant, is not a member of the church but is involved in community theater and has sung with the church choir in the past.

“It's been a lot of fun, and I've been surprised by the voices of some of these kids,” he said. “It's amazing.”

St. Paul's “Seussical JR.” will feature a multi-generational cast from adults down to a 4-year-old actor who plays one of the Whos.

“It's good because it brings the little kids in, it brings the adults in and everyone in between,” said Laura Montgomery, 25, of Ross Township who plays Gertrude McFuzz.

“It's fun to do them with kids I've seen grow up here. It's fun watching them have that first show experience … and the audiences are always great.”

Paige Milavec, a freshman at Shaler Area High School, is involved in her school's musical, “Crazy for You,” but carved out extra time to also be involved in the church performance.

“We all have different personalities here, (just) as in the show,” said Milavec, 14, of Shaler who plays Mayzie La Bird. “It makes church a lot more interesting.”

Taylor said while “Seussical JR.” is a diversion from past productions, which have included “Always… Patsy Cline” and “Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat,” the story is one that audience members of all ages can enjoy.

“There are a lot of lessons we can learn from Dr. Seuss books,” Taylor said, “and this is a conglomeration of many of his books.”

Bethany Hofstetter is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. She can be reached at 724-772-6364 or bhofstetter@tribweb.com.

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