Inspiring Imagination

No other children’s book author stands out quite like the imaginative Dr. Seuss. The memorable, colorful, fantastical worlds he created found a home in the hearts of teachers, parents and young readers. Through his inventive characters and rhyming verse, Dr. Seuss has inspired youth for generations to chase their dreams and never stop imagining.

This May, thanks to the TRYPS (Theatre Reaching Young People in Schools) Institute at Stephens College, audiences will have a chance to see their favorite Seuss tales brought together when the troupe presents “Seussical: The Musical Jr.”

For Samantha Boisclair, director and choreographer, putting “Seussical” on stage is a dream come true. She grew up reading copies of “Yertle the Turtle,” “The Cat in the Hat” and “Green Eggs and Ham.” After choreographing four shows with TRYPS and developing a strong rapport with the children in the program, Boisclair decided it was time to try her hand at directing and to capture the Seussian spirit on stage.

With 27 youngsters in the cast ranging in age from 8 to 15, Boisclair has a lot to manage. Fortunately, she’s supported by Stephens College Theatre for Young Audiences students.

“I could not do it without them!” Boisclair says with a laugh. “They’re so talented and excited to be working with kids.”

As for the young actors making up the cast, Boisclair says every rehearsal with them is an adventure.

“Some of these kids are fantastic actors,” she says. “Because of their TRYPS training and being a part of different shows and classes, they’re pretty bold in the best way.”

Boisclair encourages her students to experiment with their roles to breathe life into their characters. Whether it means a voice change for the mayor of Whoville, or the development of a hilarious slow-motion run for Yertle the Turtle, Boisclair accommodates each cast member’s creativity.

“Seussical: The Musical Jr.” is written to feature multiple characters. Beginning with a girl and a tall red-and-white hat, the play brings out the Cat in the Hat who encourages the girl to “think all you can think” and imagine the rest of the show. As the girl dreams, the action loosely follows the plot of “Horton Hears a Who” but also features new and favorite Dr. Seuss characters including a Sour Kangaroo and the Grinch. In traditional Seuss style, the songs and dialogue feature quite a few made-up words from the author’s fictional vocabulary, but also deliver an inspiring message about staying true to your heart and following your dreams.

Outside of performances, TRYPS provides its participants the option to develop creativity and real-world skills. Children who join learn about being team players while also learning and understanding what it’s like to live in someone else’s shoes. By taking on new roles, not only do students discover more about their own personalities, but they also learn how to empathize with characters that are out-of-this-world but still have relatable human characteristics.

Boisclair also reminds her students that regardless of where their lives may take them, the skills they pick up during their time on stage can serve them well off stage, too. “No matter what you do, if you are a professional dog-walker, if you are a doctor, if you are on Broadway, if you are none of the above, it doesn’t matter. Remember that you love this!”


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