Fantastical Fun: Bachelor of Education students bring Dr. Seuss to life

By: Cory Habermehl
Friday, February 13, 2015

“A person’s a person, no matter how small.”

Western’s Faculty of Education is bringing those words of wisdom, and a number of others, to life this weekend as nearly 70 Bachelor of Education (B.Ed.) students produce and perform Seussical the Musical live on stage.

The play is a combination of Dr. Seuss classics, including Horton Hears a Who and Horton Hatches the Egg. Students are handling all elements of the play, from directing and producing to lighting, acting and singing.

“It’s experiential learning,” said David Ulbrych, B.Ed. student and the show’s producer. “We’re managing individuals, solving problems as they arise – all things that are relevant in the working world.”

Ulbrych and others on the production side of the show are part of a course on theatre production, designed to teach students a variety of theoretical and practical concepts.

“Everyone needs something different in how they’re taught and how they learn,” said Ulbrych. “The best way to do that is practicing it – even with cast members everyone needs something different, so it will be great to translate this to the classroom.”

The experience is also great in terms of learning to address the unexpected, said Ulbrych. Like when the cast member playing the role of General Genghis Kahn Schmitz had to leave the production.

“I didn’t see it coming, but we dealt with it,” he said. “We needed a General, and there was no one else to do it, so I stepped in and now I’m in the play as well.”

The team of future teachers picked a Seuss-inspired play in order to reach out to children. It was a smart choice, given the reaction of the auditorium full of kids to whom the play was presented at a special matinee performance earlier this week.

“They really loved it,” said Ulbrych. “There are moments where the fourth wall is broken and we go right out to involve audience – the kids are so into it, they feel like it’s not an actor, but really is the Cat in the Hat telling them what to do or asking questions.”

And while the play is aimed at children, it’s applicable to an adult audience as well.

The experience of putting on a show like Seussical has better prepared everyone involved for their careers in education, said Ulbrych.

“We’ve got theatre goals, but down the road we’ll have classroom goals,” he said. “Right now we’re working to ensure a happy, engaged audience, and later we’ll need happy, engaged kids in our classes.”

Until that time, Ulbrych and his classmates will enjoy the opportunity they’ve made for themselves to create a fantastical world for everyone involved.

As Dr. Seuss says, fantasy is a necessary ingredient in living.

Show times:

Friday, February 13 and Saturday, February 14 at 8 p.m.

Tickets are $15 and available at the door, or through the Grand Theatre