BY TARA McCARTHY

Walking through the doors to the auditorium is like travelling into a world of storybook proportions – the air is filled with energetic rhythms, while the stage is devoured by colour with a rainbow cast of characters.

After weeks of work, the dedicated Music Arts and Drama students at Wood Street Centre have brought to life a familiar world of wonder and fantasy withSeussical.

“It was a major challenge because a lot of people are on stage a lot of the time and everybody’s energy really has to be up. It’s filled with singing,” explains MAD instructor Jeff Nordlund of the wildly playful musical.

Everyone’s favourite picture-book practitioner, Dr. Seuss, is translated to the stage in this whirlwind production of Whos, Horton and the Cat In The Hat. Rhyming dialogue leads the audience through soliloquy ballads to up-tempo jazzy numbers and a bouncing chorus of birds.

The audience members will undoubtedly connect with the Seuss content. And the actors themselves say that’s been a large part of the fun.

“It’s really weird because I remember reading all of the stories individually and then now you have them all linked together,” Anne Aubin says.

Aubin takes on the role of Jojo, a Who that the humble elephant Horton is determined to keep from harm.

Calvin Laveck plays Horton. True to the book, he hears a Who and makes it his duty to keep the tiny people safe. Along the way he gets caught up nesting an egg and has a run-in with the circus.

“It’s been a lot of fun to play,” he says. “It’s a fun class to do Seuss with.”

Alana Bekk says she’s developed a newfound love for the rhyming tales. Bekk takes the stage as Gertrude, a warm-hearted bird intent on impressing Horton.

“I enjoy it because it’s a good challenge,” she says of the role. “I mean last year I had a smaller role and this year I was determined to do well and apparently I’ve achieved that.”

To take the musical from page to production, the MAD students vigorously worked to transform the Wood Street Centre stage.

A giant green swirl covers the theatre floor and bright cartoon-like buildings stand off to stage right. The atmosphere conveys that particular Dr. Seuss style as if it were straight from the pages.

And MAD student Graham Rudge put together virtually every quirky garment to transform the actors.

Laveck is draped in grey, while Aubin and her fellow Whos are outfitted in vibrant yellow. Bekk and a flock of giggling bird girls traipses across the stage in pinks, purples, blues and feathers.

Rudge also takes the stage in a tall red and white striped hat as none other than the charismatic and conniving Cat In The Hat.

The students did their research and read through each Dr. Seuss tale as part of the process. But Rudge says it’s been a challenge to play creatures. And more importantly, do the Dr.’s characters justice.

“Kids have this certain image in their head of how Horton is going to act and you’ve got to sort of live up to those expectations,” Rudge says. “That’s difficult, but I think we did a pretty darn good job of it.”

Seussical runs June 5, 6 and 7 at 8 p.m. and June 8 at 1:30 and 7:30 p.m. at the Wood St. Centre. Tickets are $7 for those under 12 years of age and $12 for those over 12.

Miss Gertrude McFuzz (Alana Bekk) croons for more impressive feathers and the adoration of Horton.

PHOTO: MORGAN WHIBLEY morgwhib@gmail.com

A flock of femme birds shake their tail feathers in Seussical.

PHOTO: MORGAN WHIBLEY morgwhib@gmail.com

The Cat and the Hat (Graham Rudge) leads an energetic crowd of Whos and creatures through the world of Dr. Seuss.

PHOTO: MORGAN WHIBLEY morgwhib@gmail.com

General Genghis Khan Schmitz (played by Kyle Curtis) leaps during a musical ensemble number in Seussical.

PHOTO: MORGAN WHIBLEY morgwhib@gmail.com

Horton (played by Calvin Laveck) sits atop a nest taking care of an egg, while a colourful cast of characters exhaustedly waits below.

PHOTO: MORGAN WHIBLEY morgwhib@gmail.com