Whoville comes to Hermiston

The cast of “Suessical” rehearses recently at Hermiston High School.

Whimsical costumes, an elaborate stage and fun music are all featured in “Seussical the Musical” at Hermiston High School.

Drama and music students are staging the production, which opens Friday at 7 p.m. in the school’s fine arts auditorium, 600 S. First St. Other performances are Saturday and Feb. 16-17, also at 7 p.m., and a matinée show Sunday, Feb. 18 at 2 p.m. Tickets are $10 for adults and $8 for senior citizens and $5 for students.

Jordan Bemrose-Rust’s face was animated as she stood swaying to the music during a recent dress rehearsal. The HHS choir director, who’s also in charge of choreography, worked on a small-scale version of the popular Dr. Seuss-themed musical several years ago while teaching in Ione. She convinced drama director Beth Anderson — although it didn’t take much convincing — to take on the production.

“This has big dance numbers. I wanted to go big,” Bemrose-Rust said. “When you do choreography with 30 people, it’s a lot more grand.”

It’s been a team effort to produce “Seussical” — HHS band teacher Sean McClanahan is directing the orchestra pit and Kathy Vore is the technical director. And, the excitement is contagious — from student performers to parents and community members who have stepped up in lending a hand.

Anderson said “Seussical” is the most produced show across America for good reason. She referred to the music as “fantastically fun.”

“It’s just fun and upbeat,” said Alyssa Perkins, who plays the part of the Sour Kangaroo. “There are a lot of bright colors. It’s going to be appealing to all ages.”

The HHS junior credits Bemrose-Rust with encouraging her to step out of her comfort zone and onto the stage. While Perkins has been involved in choir during her high school years, this is her first involvement with musical theater.

Junior Kyle Ketchersid, too, is stretching his talents. During last year’s “Fiddler on the Roof” production, he played bassoon in the orchestra pit.

Although he says he’s not necessarily an obsessed fan of Dr. Seuss, Ketchersid has taken on the persona of The Cat in the Hat and The Grinch for the musical. He said he’s enjoying the peppy and upbeat nature of the performance.

In addition to 14 students, there are four adults in the orchestra pit. Having the seasoned performers, McClanahan said, offers students an opportunity to glean additional insight. And, they contribute to the fullness of the sound.

“Also, with more parts it adds more energy to the performance,” McClanahan said.

Bemrose-Rust also sings praises for Margaret Wetterling. The pianist, she said, has played an integral role as an accompanist — not only for “Seussical,” but also choir concerts and past musicals.

Brittany Sloan, a four-year veteran of the HHS stage, said the energy has been amazing. Sloan, who plays the role of Mayzie LaBird, said the cast has worked hard and is excited about staging the production.

“It’s geared towards youngsters but it’s still pretty fun for everyone,” Ketchersid said.

Anderson agreed.

“I do not like green eggs and ham,” she said quoting from the script. “How could you go wrong?”


Contact Community Editor Tammy Malgesini at tmalgesini@eastoregonian.com or 541-564-4539

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