Arts: Students bring Seussical to the boards at Kellam High School

Fourteen-year-old freshman Sam Sparagno of Christopher Farms is helped into his Grinch costume by Maddy Decoster, 18, a senior from Courthouse. [John-Henry Doucette/The Princess Anne Independent News]

WEST NECK — It takes a lot of work to bring theater to life, especially a musical such as Seussical, which is scheduled to begin its final weekend of shows from Thursday, March 30, through Sunday, April 2.

Packed with a huge cast portraying characters from several Dr. Seuss works, as well as dancers, musicians and production team members, high school students are bringing to life a family-friendly musical that features about 30 songs.

They’ve played to big houses, both paid and containing younger students from city schools. Students — with help from alumni, parent volunteers and educators — have managed every aspect of the production from building sets to makeup to costuming to making sure actors hit marks and arrive on cue.

Drama teacher Tammy Smith, who directed the play with Robin Petersen, said she tells students shows must look professional — or why bother? “That sends them off into the real world, whether they do theater or not, only wanting to do the best,” she said.

In portraying the Grinch, 14-year-old Sam Sparagno, a freshman from Christopher Farms, wore a facial prosthetic designed and applied by a fellow student. Before a recent Friday show, Maddy Decoster, an 18-year-old senior from Courthouse, helped him into costume – and described how they built the Grinch’s face from a cast of Sparagno’s face.

Decoster made a cast, coating her classmate with gel and then plaster, then made a mold of his face from the cast. That made the resulting prosthetic fit, and she painted to be as realistic as one can be in Grinch green.

Sparagno remembered the process of making the cast. “Was I in the dark for an hour?”

“I think,” Decoster replied.

“My only senses were smell and touch,” Sparagno said.

Conor Stepnowski, a 17-year-old senior from Heritage Park, plays the role of Horton, the elephant who hold the fate of Who-Ville in his paws.

“This is my fourth musical here,” he said, after putting on his ears. Stepnowksi may pursue musical theater studies in college. He said he valued performing for younger students during daytime performances.  

“I love doing the matinees,” he said. “That’s my favorite part.”

And the response just afterwards is fun, too. “After each show, we get to high five them,” he said. “‘Oh, look. It’s Horton.’”

Larissa Conza, a 17-year-old senior from Ashville Park, walks from the dressing room to the band room for warm ups before the Friday night performance. She plays the role of Mayzie LaBird. [John-Henry Doucette/The Princess Anne Independent News]
Maddie Toman, an 18-year-old senior from Lago Mar, is seen in costume as Thing One prior to a recent show. [John-Henry Doucette/The Princess Anne Independent News]

There are tickets available for the shows scheduled from Thursday, March 30, through Sunday, April 2. Thursday through Saturday shows begin at 7 p.m. Sunday’s show starts at 2:30 p.m. Visit to puchased tickets. Seating is reserved. Advance ticket prices are $10 for adults, $8 students and $6 for those under 11.

© 2017 Pungo Publishing Co., LLC

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