The doctor is in
Red and Black Players’ ‘Seussical’ hits stage tonight
TUPPER LAKE — From the moment the Cat in the Hat leaps on stage at the Tupper Lake High School’s production of “Seussical,” the theater is a buzzing array of singing, dancing, a live music, vibrant stage dressing, elaborate costumes and creative lighting.
“It’s basically a singing and dancing show,” said Shae Arsenault, who plays the bombastic and sassy Mayzie La Bird. “Some might say, ‘a big sing.'”
Co-director Elizabeth Cordes said they have a young cast this year, with many up-and-coming performers. As the group got dressed for a rehearsal on Tuesday, they showed how excited they are to hit the stage tonight.
Meika Nadeau, a senior who plays the Cat in the Hat, said she had to broaden her comfort zone and challenge herself for this role.
“It’s different than any of the other roles I’ve done,” Nadeau said. “I had to learn how to embody that hecticness that the Cat in the Hat brings.”
On top of that, she “had to learn how to tap dance,” Nadeau said.
She had never tap danced before, and was given an entire number to perform, but she said with the patient help of Choreographer Kendall Davison, she learned.
Nadeau said she had really bad stage fright at first, but she fell in love with acting — mostly because of the group she was working with.
“It kind of sounds cliche but you really do create a huge family over the years,” she said.
Sophia Staves, who plays Sour Kangaroo, learned ventriloquism for her role. She voices her son Rudy as well — Rudy is a puppet crafted by a mother of one of Staves’ friends.
Ayden Rabideau plays Mr. Mayor, the leader of Whoville.
“It’s crazy. The amount of stuff I go through in an hour and a half, it’s pretty insane,” Rabideau said.
He joked that he doesn’t “see any of it,” though.
“He feels it all,” TLHS employee Curtis Switzer said.
Rabideau is blind, so he memorizes his lines by reading braille and learns the dance choreography by hand, Switzer said. Singing is done the old-fashioned way.
“You sing in your bedroom until your mom runs in and calls you a lunatic,” Rabideau said. Sometimes he said he just keeps on singing.
Though it’s hard work, he said, with friends, “It’s fun to work.”
Rabideau said though this is his eighth play, he still gets nerves right before curtain opens. But he’s got a way of keeping cool on stage.
“I mainly whisper random stuff to myself on stage,” Rabideau said. “But I can’t this year because I’m mic’d.”
Nevaeh Toohey plays Mrs. Mayor, the confident center of attention. Toohey said this is not her in real life, but she likes portraying a different person.
Toohey remembered seeing high school students perform previews at the L.P. Quinn Elementary School when she was a student there.
“I just wanted to be like them,” Toohey said.
On Thursday, they’ll head down the street to L.P. Quinn to perform for the next generation of TLHS students.
“Now it’s our turn,” Rabideau said.
Dean Lavigne plays one of the Wickershams, an irreverent boy band of “sassy monkeys that bully Horton around.” His cousin Reagan got him into acting.
“She’s a real big inspiration to me,” Lavigne said.
He joined the theater because he wanted to be “cool,” too, but he said it’s “the adrenaline” of being on stage that keeps him coming back. And he said he has a lot of fun with his fellow bandmates.
Emily Roberts, a senior and the leader of the Wickershams, said seeing her uncle, Lance Vaillancourt, performing “Back to the 80s” at TLHS yeas ago and go on to study acting in college gave her the spark to get into theater.
She’s been working hard to be as mean as possible on stage, shoving Horton and getting in his face with attitude.
“It took me a while to get used to it, because it’s not really me,” Roberts said of her character. “I hate being mean.”
Staves, Sour Kangaroo, plays a sassy, nasally marsupial. But she’s not like that in real life, so she gets a kick out of exploring different personalities and different thoughts on stage. Staves said she is usually caught up in herself and who she is, and what she loves about acting is that it lets her step into someone else’s shoes.
“It’s nice to act like someone else with a different personality and see how they would think, their process of thinking,” Staves said.
She’s also got to change her voice. After eight years in chorus, she said it’s been a big transition to sing just out of her nose instead of her whole face, as is usually the right way.
Joelle Bedore, another Wickersham, said she took a two year break from acting. The stage fright and time it took was overwhelming. But when the school announced it would put on “Beauty and the Beast” last year, she wanted to do it again.
“Over those two years TikTok became a thing,” Bedore said.
She found herself recording videos of herself acting at home, and became more comfortable.
“When I did Beauty and the Beast I had no stage fright and I was actually proud to be on the stage,” she said. “Yes, it does take a lot of time, but it’s so worth it.”
Reagan Fritts said playing the one-feathered bird Gertrude McFuzz is one of her favorite roles ever.
She flows between contrasting personality traits — bubbly and timid, eccentric and determined.
She saw TLHS productions when she was younger and knew she wanted to be on stage.
“It brings me a lot of happiness,” Fritts said. “And the people in it make me feel good.”
She plans to continue acting in college.
Noah Switzer is dedicated to his role as the Grinch. The fur suit is hot and he can’t always get all the green makeup off before heading to school, he said. Even though he said it looks like he’s sickly green all day, he’s enjoying playing the iconic grump.
Cody Auclair plays Horton the Elephant, a shy, lovable and passionate dreamer who is trying to do the right thing.
Auclair’s favorite part in the show is his duet with Lacey Pickering, “Alone in the Universe.” Auclair said a few years ago he read Dr. Seuss for the kids at L.P. Quinn, which he enjoyed. Dr. Seuss has a dense bibliography, so there are tons of characters on stage.
Curtains at the TLHS auditorium rise on Friday and Saturday at 7 p.m. and on Sunday at 2 p.m.
Tickets cost $10 for adults and $7 for students, and can be purchased at the door.