SPRINGFIELD – A fitting new twist will be added to the famous show Seussical Jr. when community performers will join with people with developmental disabilities to stage the musical “Seussical Jr.” June 29-July 1 at Jonathan Dayton High School in Springfield. This is the first such joint production in Union County, with students and adults from the community joining members of Community Access Unlimited (CAU) to form the CAU Community Players and stage the show.
CAU Provides support programs and services to people with disabilities and at-risk youth to enable them to live independently in the community. Support comprises housing, vocational and life-skills training, education, advocacy and recreation, including art and creative expression.
“Part of our mission is to enable our members to become integrated participants in the community,” said Mercedes Witowsky, CAU associate executive director. “Part of that means being accepted as equals and having their talents and value recognized. This musical is an ideal vehicle for that mission because of both the blend of cast and the message.”
The plot of “Seussical Jr.” centers on the Dr. Seuss character, Horton the Elephant, who hears cries for help from the tiny world of the WHOS, and JoJo, the mayor’s child who constantly gets into trouble for her creative thinking. The show revolves around kindness, acceptance and self-esteem, with a message that no one should feel lonely, small or insignificant because everyone can have a meaningful impact in life. The key phrase in the show is, “A person’s a person no matter how small.”
The cast of more than 50 includes high school and college students and adults from seven towns and three counties and members and staff from CAU. Jaycee Holmes, a junior at Sayreville High School, is playing the role of the Sour Kangaroo.
“I’ve been in three other Seussical productions before but this is the most fun I’ve had working this show,” she said. “It’s great to be part of such a diverse and talented cast. Everyone gets along so well. We have a bond and we are like a team. It’s been a great experience.”
“I had to get used to how this went,” said Annie Johnson, a CAU member for five years. “But now that I get it and I know what to do, I want to do more and bigger parts. I really like this.”
Seussical Jr. is being directed by Marguerite Modero, a performing arts teacher in the Garwood School District who has staged the musical several times. Modero is parent to an adult daughter with disabilities, who also is in the show.
“Over the years it has been very difficult to watch your child’s talent be totally discounted because of their disability,” Modero said. “Many many misconceptions still remain. The concept of our show is to give everyone the opportunity to audition on an even playing field along with actors from the community and be given the part they deserve according to their talent, ability and interest.”
“I’ve been waiting for this my whole life,” said Megan Modero. “I finally have a real part after all the shows I’ve been in and it’s all because of CAU. They believe in us and gave us our chance. I’m so excited, I love everything about it.”
The show is choreographed by Alyson Monaco of Cranford. “When we started most of the cast were non-dancers and there was definitely a learning curve,” she said. “But once they got it, it was just so exciting to see. Now they are quite skillful at the many dances in the show. It really is so rewarding to see.”
Seussical Jr. will be performed June 29 and June 30 at 7:30 p.m. and July 1 at 2 p.m. at Jonathan Dayton High School, 139 Mountain Avenue in Springfield. Tickets may be purchased online at www.caunj.org and clicking on Events, by contacting Cara Pavia at 1-908-354-3040, ext. 376, or at the door. Admission is $10 for adults and $8 for children, students and senior citizens.
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