Hopkinton High School Presents "Seuss" with an Edge

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Students at Hopkinton High School will present a socially relevant spin on Dr. Seuss’s beloved children’s books when they present “Seussical, the Musical,” in late November.

Starring a cast of 47, ‘Seussical” will feature singing, dancing, and those familiar childhood stories as a parable about the plight of the downtrodden. While the audience will recognize the references to Seuss’s whimsical children’s books -- “How the Grinch Stole Christmas,” “Green Eggs and Ham,” “One Fish Two Fish” and “The Butter Battle” -- this show will have political undertones that will make it relevant and timely. The unseen “Whos” are depicted as refugees, relocated to a strange land and feeling invisible to many. Horton the elephant, their protector, is depicted as a lonely creature himself who believes that “a person’s a person no matter how small.” The story is told from the standpoint of a child who is separated from her family.

Show director Valerie vonRosenvinge said that she faced some obstacles in producing “Seussical,” starting with the students who didn’t want to be part of what they thought would be a “silly children’s show.” Others were uncomfortable with the recent controversy surrounding Seuss, whose work was recently booted out of libraries and even the Dr. Seuss Museum in Springfield because it was perceived as racist. VonRosenvinge said that while some of his work reflected the culture of the times, at the heart of Seuss’s books are a deep current of empathy.

“It’s interesting how easy it is to feel empathy for cute tiny cartoon creatures brightly colored in storybooks,” writes vonRosenvinge in the program for her show. “I would like to think that Dr. Seuss’s intention was that our empathy extends beyond the page to color our interactions with each other. . . that we acknowledge and feel the weight of the challenges and heartaches experienced by people around the world whom we can not see.”

Showtimes For “Seussical, the Musical” are Friday and Saturday, Nov. 17 and 18 at 7 p.m. and Sunday, Nov. 19 at 3 p.m., in the Hopkinton High School auditorium. Tickets are $10 and available at the high school office or at the door. Admission is free for senior citizens who live in Hopkinton.