Saturday, October 31, 2009

Look: Whos at the Nock

Oh my. No, this is not good, this is not good at all. Horton hears a rumbly in his tumbly, to mix children's classics metaphors. He's down in the dumps, under the weather. Horton hears a flu, or a stomach bug, or something seasonally nasty. So does his son. And several other Whos. But, for now, anyhow, there's no fear of a pandemic striking Whoville and taking down next week's production of "Seussical The Musical" with it. "Nothing to worry about," says John Budzyna, the former Firehouse executive director who plays Horton, the persistent, put-upon pachyderm in his first trans-species role since he played Owl in "Winnie the Pooh" a few years ago: He's on the mend, the health hit hasn't been as bad as it could be when you have a stageful of school-aged actors and, all things considered, if you've got to deal with illness in the cast, now is the time to get it out of the way: The lines have been learned, the show has been blocked out. Right now, it's a matter of showing up and hitting marks for lighting and Seussical-musical cues — and staying healthy.

No worries about letting the Cat out of the Hat, er, bag with "Seussical." First staged in 2000, it's a monster of a musical and a tough puppy to summarize, mashing together a library of Seuss stories. The story centers about Horton the Elephant, who famously hears a Who (yes, the very same Whos who made the Grinch's heart grow so precipitously ) one of a whole world of Whos living on a speck of dust — a precarious existence, indeed — who seeks Horton's protection. He's up to the task and tries to enlist the citizens of his world. They think he's completely bonkers, of course, and ridicule and torment him. Which is just the beginning of Horton's tuneful travails.

There's a big happy ending, of course — for Horton and all those Whos and, hopefully, for the Rupert A. Nock Middle School, the venue for the show. The production will help pay for improvements at the long-in-the-tooth Nock theater, which, bottom line, will run an estimated $100,000. Not that anyone thinks that bill will be paid any time soon, "but it starts the conversation," says Budzyna. Short-term goals will be to buy new mikes or replace the grid of non-functioning pulleys. "We’re hoping to create an opportunity for students and adults to come together to put on a great show and raise some money to help update the theater," says Michael Pirollo, a language arts teacher at the Nock and head of its after-school theater department.

The show is being staged by Newburyport Summer Stock, a performance-based vacation program for middle and high school students. Pirollo will direct. Evelyn Mann is musical director. Deirdre Budzyna, co-owner of Acting Out Productions at the Tannery, is assistant director.

JUST THE FACTS, MAN: "Seussical the Musical" will be staged at 7 p.m. Nov. 5 to 9 at Nock Middle School, 70 Low Street. There will also be a 2 p.m. matinee on Nov. 7. Tickets are $18, or $8 for students and seniors for evening performances. Tickets for the matinee are $8, or $6 for students and seniors. More more information, email

JUST THE FOLKS, MAN: The cast of 72 of "Seussical the Musical" includes Caroline Acquaviva, Tom Adams, Olivia Anderholm, Kate Anderson-Song, Alison Balentine, Charlotte Balentine, Daniel Balentine, Georgia Balentine, Molly Balentine, Caroline Beauparlant, Katelyn Brannelly, Colin Budzyna, John Budzyna, Maggie Budzyna, Colleen Byron, Fedja Celebic, Haley Collins, Seamus Cummings, Gordon Cummings, Nicole Davis, Megan DesAutels, Anna Durning, Grace Eramo, Lucy Eramo, Sophie Fagerquist, Haley Gendell, Cricket Good, Lily Griffin, Annie Kate Gross, Meghan Healey, Grace Kelleher, Emily Rose Kelleher, Katherine Kjaer, Olivia Lemelin, Sam Losh, Julia Marcheterre, Anna Marcheterre, Bryan Marden, Audrey McCarthy, DJ McCarthy, Macie McGee, Ashley McIntire, Kyle McIntire, Melissa Moore, Abi Moore, Anna Moore, Anna Moreland, Karina O'Donnell, Jesse O'Neill, Emma O'Rourke, Katie O'Rourke, Berit Palma, Mika Phipps, Hannah Rikeman, Meaghan Robichaud, Hannah Rowe, Abby Seabrook, Rachel Serebnik, Sydney Skaff, Ricky Smith, Linsey Smith, Emily Smith, Vicki Smith, Mackenzie Tatro, Claire Thibeault, Meghan Timony, Emily Tradd, Madelyn Vining, Demi Wack, Dylan Wack, Adam Woo, and Julia Yameen. Mike Pirollo directs.

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