“I want scary zombies!” is something you might hear from Dr. Christy Lee, who is in charge of the music, during a Seussical rehearsal. The three performances of the Seussical are set in April, but everyone involved is already giving their best. Dr. Lee gives advice and encouragement to everybody from behind her piano. Courtney Vanderpool, the choreographer, imagines and teaches all the dance movements. Jennings Kelly, the stage manager, and Dr. Heather McMahon, the director, put the whole musical together. And of course, the actors, are all very excited about the show.
In spite of having to meet up to four times a week, laughter and happiness turn hard and tiring rehearsals into a fun time between friends. Actors either start with singing or they first rehearse dancing. But not all the rehearsals are similar. Some days, only a few actors are required to go for particular scenes. On other days, the whole crew is there ready to sing and dance.
For Matt Lyscas, who plays Horton, it is still hard to imagine the final result. There are so many elements that have to come together: lights, music, lines and movements. “It is a big show, there is a lot of spectacle,” he said, “It is huge, especially with cartoon characters.”
Indeed, the Seussical is based on the stories of Dr. Seuss who wrote them for children. And as it is the case for all musicals, spectacle is very important. “We have this big car with crazy lights, and there is a bump on the road, and this bump turns into a huge bump,” Matt added. Every movement is exaggerated and the facial expressions are amplified for the spectacle.
But these long hours every week are rather exhausting for the actors. “You don’t realize how tired you are until you leave the rehearsal,” Lyscas said. “The rehearsals are very tiring because they last until late and you have class the next morning, so you would need to take catnaps before to have enough energy,” agreed Raine Palmer who is playing various characters on the show.
Despite this, Raine is very excited about coming to rehearsal. “Rehearsals are fun, you see everything coming together, and you can see the potential of the musical,” she said. Her excitement is undoubtedly shared by many other performers. Nobody complains when they sweat from dancing for an hour, have a five minute break and have to go back on stage for two more hours.
Outside the rehearsal room, there is also an advertising process that has begun. The publicity crew has set up an advertising strategy to attract as large of an audience as possible. “It is important to keep the show in people’s mind,” said Claire Palmer, who is the director of publicity in addition to her role in the show. To do so, she and her crew hand in postcards around the city, in West Town Mall and in restaurants.
They also post short interviews of characters on the Maryville College Theatre Facebook page. They encourage actors to share news on Facebook. They are doing a lot so that people keep hearing about the show. That way they will remember it when the show takes place in April.
Even though rehearsing for a show of such importance is very exciting, actors are somewhat stressed about combining the movements and the lyrics and the lines. They know they still have a long way to go until April 15, the first date for the Seussical. But they give their best: their time, their energy and their smiles. Both the actors and the publicity crew work hard to make the show as spectacular as possible.
The actors stay in rehearsal room, while the publicity crew goes outside MC’s walls and tries to advertise the show as much as possible. But they both work simultaneously to bring an outstanding show to their audience. “The more we do, the more I’m excited,” said Lyscas, and one can definitely see this in rehearsal.