Seussical: The start of a post-COVID era for the musical

Maya Mitckess, Managing Editor of Digital and Social Media

    As Lake Forest Academy’s winter season comes into full swing, the annual musical is highly anticipated. Last year, the Athletic Department had a lot more freedom as COVID restrictions were easing up, but the Fine and Performing Arts Department still had many precautions because they are in an enclosed and packed space. This year, the arts will finally get to experience some of that freedom and use it in the upcoming musical with a full-on production of the Broadway show Seussical.

    Matt Boresi, Director of Theater at LFA, touched on the restrictions of past years: “For years now we’ve been masked or distanced or online and being very careful. And so I feel like we’ve gotten a little bit small with our artistic choices and a little bit reluctant.” Saying that this reluctance is in the past hints the full-out production Seussical is going to be this year. Previously, along with the restrictions came a period in the Fine and Performing Arts Department at LFA where shows were heavily student-led. This is the first time since COVID hit that the musical is a professionally written one. This is a large shift from last year’s production to this year’s, “I like to think of every show that we do as a totally new process with a totally different set of learning objectives,” Boresi commented. 

    Seussical is a combination of many different Dr. Seuss stories with themes of identity, individuality, and creativity set to some fun-filled music. A lot of people hear the name Dr. Seuss and have prenotions about what the musical is going to be. On this Miranda Hernandez ‘23, who plays Gertrude, onew of the leads, in the musical, said, “A lot of people think of it as just a children’s show, but it actually dives into a lot of deeper things,” she continued by saying, “There is this idea that a person is a person no matter how small. And that represents treating everyone equally.”     

    Not only is there this huge idea of equality in the musical, but it also touches on the subjects of body dysmorphia, war, and abortion in the original Broadway version. Though LFA is doing the TYA, theater for young audiences, version of Seussical, a lot of these themes still shine through, “The play this fall was so substantial that it’s really good that we’re doing something that still has a really substantial message, but is not as serious in tone,” Tim Plambeck, Director of Music, explained.

    The theater department at LFA decided to do the TYA version of Seussical this year because of an interesting addition to the musical season: touring the show. This tour will go to multiple elementary schools which involves setting up the show multiple times and bringing only half the (double-casted) cast. “We did bring the Scottish play to the theater festival a few years ago, and it’s really involved…So touring is tricky, but I think it’s gonna be a really welcome challenge with the students.” Boresi said. 

    The actors also have the challenge of getting used to new spaces while also preparing to perform. When talking about touring, Hernandez commented, “I’m not really sure how it’s going to work, but I’m super excited about it,” and she continued by saying, “When I was little I loved watching the shows that came to our schools.” Though touring is a lot of work, the theater department at LFA seems more than ready to put the time and effort into it. 

    The winter musical this year will look a lot different than the past couple of years: It will be a large ensemble performance that is live. It will have large dance numbers, and an emphasis on interacting with the audience. A majority of this was not possible during the times of COVID, but Boresi has a list of goals for the first post-COVID musical, “Let everybody explode out of their pandemic era funk. Get the cast working as an ensemble and communicate very directly with an audience. And let everyone experience the challenges and satisfaction of touring.” 

    The Fine and Performing Arts Department is in a new era for their shows where they go back to the traditional productions of years before and build upon it in both meaning and creativity.

Official cover for Seussical the musical. (Courtesy of Music Theatre International )
LFA’s Seussical cast choreographing and practicing their opening number.
(Photo by Abbey Trejo)