The school-sponsored musical at Riverside-Brookfield High School is back after a hiatus last year. This weekend students will perform Seussical, a musical based on the famous children’s stories written by Dr. Seuss.
Last year, the musical was eliminated as part of budget cuts, but the Riverside Junior Theater Guild stepped into the breach and put on Li’l Abner, featuring RBHS students.
This March, Seussical is an official school production funded by the school. However, under the school’s new pay-to-participate policy, students in the show had to fork over $75 to be in the show unless they qualified for the free-lunch program.
Students were anxious to get back on stage, especially because the fall play had also been eliminated. Seussical will be the only play put on at the school this year.
“I don’t think in the 17 years that I’ve been at RB, I’ve ever seen such fine auditions as I saw for this musical,” said Diane Marelli, the school’s Fine Arts Department chairwoman and the vocal music director for Seussical. “They were prepared. They really wanted do it and be in it. It was very heartwarming.
“Everybody missed the musical. I don’t think it would have mattered what musical we did. Everybody who wanted to do a musical was relieved and excited.”
Seussical will be performed in the RBHS auditorium, 160 Ridgewood Road in Riverside, on March 8 and 9 at 7:30 p.m. and on March 10 at 2 p.m. Tickets are $8 for adults and $5 for students and senior citizens and can be purchased by calling the school at 442-7500.
Budget cuts are affecting the show. When RBHS put on The Wiz two years ago, five stipend positions were funded for the musical. This year there are stipends for only three positions. The positions of drama assistant and dance assistant were eliminated this year for a savings of about $6,500.
Will Schaub, a former television actor who now teaches at S.E. Gross Middle School in Brookfield, is directing Seussical, while James Baum will lead the orchestra.
Around $8,000 was saved this year by cutting professional expenses for set building, supplies and royalties.
“We’ve used other resources this year,” Marelli said. “We’ve had parents help construct the set.”
Seussical features a cast of about 45 students, and many students will share the limelight.
“It’s a great show to do when you haven’t done a show in a couple of years,” Marelli said. “We didn’t know what we had. This show has lots of leads. Truly it has 10 or 11 leads. It’s one of those shows where you come out, you do your little bit and then you’re done for a while, but everybody has their moment in the sun.”
Senior Marcy Rodriguez, a talented fashion designer, stepped into the breach when the costume budget was slashed. Rodriguez designed and created all the costumes herself.
“She has sewn costumes, she has constructed costumes, gone to thrift stores and redone clothing for the show,” Marelli said. “She’s amazing. She did all the sewing herself and a lot of the construction herself.”