Seussical the Musical is opportunity to get youth involved in theater

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NSU students Ella Castro (left) and Phoenix Woods play two birds of a feather in costumes designed by Elizabeth Guy.

Nathan Wilson | Reporter
When applying for a Louisiana Project Grant(LPG), NSU Assistant Professor of Musical Theater Dr. Grace Edgar saw an opportunity to use the funds to offer the people of Natchitoches a new way to enjoy Northwestern’s theater. “There’s not a community theater here, so we’re here working with our artists and we wanted the community to have a free opportunity to learn how to sing and dance and act,” she says.
“We wanted to create that opportunity, and hopefully the grant will get applied for next year and this can be a yearly thing that’s done here at NSU,” says Edgar.

This article published in the May 26, 2022, print edition

Jairus Killings is a student at NSU who just finished his freshman year. He is playing Horton, a compassionate pachyderm who takes it upon himself to protect those smaller than himself. He describes the experience. “I’m excited. I feel like this is a really good opportunity for the community to come together and have some fun.”
NSU student Heather Loft displays a bubbly personality while showing off the set designed by Anna Gautreaux. Photos by Nathan Wilson

Killings describes the positive impact the performance is having on the community. “I feel like it’s a really good experience for the children who want to do this when they get older, so they have that chance to work with people who are doing what they want to do,” he says. He delivers a message meant for the audience and cast. “Have fun and let’s do some Dr. Seuss.”
NSU theater student Phoenix Woods is playing a bird named Gertrude McFuzz, who is smitten by Horton’s heroics. She describes the character. “She is a bird with a one feathered tail when everyone else has big old tails,” she says. “It makes her really insecure, and she just wants a big tail so she can impress Horton the elephant because she’s in love with him, but he doesn’t notice her.”
Jairus Killings, top, and Phoenix Woods sing as Horton and Gertrude McFuzz under the musical direction of Daniel Ley.

Woods describes working with children from the community. “It’s kind of my favorite thing ever,” she says. “All the older people in the cast, we all go to school together, but all the younger people in the cast, they’re all little kids in the community.” The presence of the children motivates her to create a better performance. “It kind of lifts spirits sometimes because you can’t be in a bad mood, you’re around kids and your there to help them and lead them.” she says. “It brings out the best in people, I think, being around kids.”
The cast members recite their favorite lines in the play.
“My favorite line is ‘A person’s a person no matter how small,” says Killings.
Community cast member Jacob Aubin, left, auditioned for the part of a cadet Who. In the process of auditioning he convinced his mom, Clélie Aubin, to join in the experience. “It’s really fun for me. I don’t know, for her, it’s kind of stressful,” he says. “I’m having fun doing this, and I like the people here. I like singing. I like dancing.” He appreciates the opportunity to perform in NSU’s Theater West, having previously performed at Dark Woods and Natchitoches Middle Lab. Along with performing he is helping in the production by guiding his mom through the dance routines and leading the younger cadets through the rigors of showmanship. Clélie shared her favorite line in the performance. “One of the opening lines ‘Oh, the things you can think if you’re willing to try.’” Jacob admits to having a favorite line, but he’s vague about it. “At the very end of the show, everyone’s synchronized and it’s a perfect moment. It just sounds beautiful,” he says. “I don’t want to spoil it.”

“They prove they are persons, no matter how small,” says Woods.
Performances will be in NSU Theater West 7 p.m. Friday, May 27 and 2 p.m. and 7 p.m. Saturday, May 28 and are appropriate for all ages. Tickets are free, but seating is limited to 95 for each performance. Tickets can be requested by emailing Yolanda Britton, BrittonY@nsula.edu