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Dr. Seuss's The Sneetches The Musical at Children's Theatre Company
Dr. Seuss tales are no strangers to children, and they are certainly no strangers to the Children’s Theatre Company (CTC). Favorites such as How the Grinch Stole Christmas and The Cat in the Hat have graced the stage multiple times. Beginning this month, CTC will put on the world premiere of Dr. Seuss’s The Sneetches The Musical.
On Sneetch Beach, there’s a line in the sand dividing the Star-Bellied Sneetches from the Plain Bellies because, as everyone knows, if you don’t have a star, you’re not as special. Well, that was true before Sylvester McMonkey McBean came to town with his Star On Machine.
Playwright Philip Dawkins began writing the script about three years ago after CTC’s director of new play development, Elissa Adams, reached out to him. Coincidence or not, The Sneetches was already his favorite Dr. Seuss book. It’s also only 800 words.
The first thing Dawkins and the CTC team did to expand the play was say to themselves, “It’s perfect as a short story, but if we put it up just as is, what would be missing?”
The result was a more painful depiction of discrimination and a deeper dive into the characters. “We worked hard to round out a community of Sneetches as different from one another as they are similar,” says Dawkins. “After all, our differences are what we all have in common, right?”
True to the musical’s egalitarian spirit, the script continued to evolve through rehearsals.
Director Peter Brosius made sure to invite everyone’s ideas, including those of the youth actors who make up almost half the cast. Dawkins was on set for the first couple of weeks, talking with the actors about his words’ original intent and blending them with cast members’ own interpretations.
“We were creating this whole story,” says Sara Ochs, who plays Plain-Bellied Sneetch Madge. “It’s not like you’re in the production of Oklahoma! that’s been done 50 million times where everyone has this image in their head.”
While the ending remains under wraps, she did reveal that it’s much more complex than a classic fairy tale—a fitting conclusion to a show that blends heavy topics with the bright whimsy of Dr. Seuss.
“The themes are really heavy, but the package they’re in is really lighthearted, entertaining, and hugely energetic,” says Ochs. “It’s got an ideal balance of entertainment and humor mixed with some really poignant, heartfelt moments.”
Catch the world premiere of Dr. Seuss's The Sneetches The Musical at the Children’s Theatre Company from Feb. 7-March 26.