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'Seussical Jr.' opens tonight

Emily Daniel as The Cat in the Hat, left, and Jonathan Linden as JoJo Who perform a musical number during the Willmar Middle School production of "Seussical Jr." The production opens tonight and runs through Sunday at the Willmar High School theater. (Tribune photo by Ron Adams)

The Willmar Middle School presents "Seussical Jr." at 7 p.m. today through Saturday and at 1 p.m. Sunday at the Willmar High School theater.

Tickets are $8 for adults and $4 for students. Children under 5 are admitted free. Tickets are available today at Willmar Community Ed and Rec at the Jefferson Learning Center in Willmar and for one hour prior to each performance at the door.

Based on the works of Dr. Seuss, "Seussical Jr." is not simply a string of his stories set to music. And it isn't just one of his stories. In this "fantastical, magical, musical extravaganza, all of our favorite Dr. Seuss characters are brought to life."

The story centers around Horton the Elephant, played by Omar Valencia, who finds himself faced with a double challenge -- not only must he protect his tiny friend Jojo, played by Jonathan Linden, (and his invisible Who family) from a world of naysayers and dangers, but he must guard an abandoned egg, left to his care by the irresponsible Mayzie La Bird, played by Bailey Hovland.

Although Horton faces ridicule, danger, kidnapping and a trial, the intrepid Gertrude McFuzz, played by Paige Kester, never loses faith in him, as she is the only one who recognizes "his kind and powerful heart." Ultimately, the powers of friendship, loyalty, family and community are challenged -- and emerge triumphant -- in a story that makes you laugh and cry.

The seventh and eighth grade students at Willmar Middle School have been rehearsing for their performances since the beginning of January under the direction of Tim Cayler and Melissa Wallestad,

Members of the cast have had a hand in many aspects of theatrical production including set construction, painting and choreography.

Other cast and crew members are:

The Cat in the Hat played by Emily Daniel, Mr. Mayor played by Gabe Benson, Mrs. Mayor played by Rachel Croonquist, Sour Kangaroo played by Shelby Danzeisen, The Grinch played by Jonathan Raatz and Vlad Vladikoff played by Jonathon Carlson.

The Bird Girls are played by Annika Bergstrom, Maddie Duininck, Alex Holwerda, Rachel Juetten, Aly Kveene, Liz Mangen, McKenna Olson, Katie Roiland and Claire Schmitz.

The Wickersham Brothers are played by Brady Anderson, Scotty Freitas, Brock Geselius, Cam Haugen, Charlie Trochlil and Tyler Waldemarsen.

The Whos are played by Erika Aaker, Blake Anderson, Ashlyn Boehme, Mackensie Cook, Noah Daniel, Kassandra Erickson, Cassandra Lankenau, Jackson Muldrow, Julia Price, Alex Reynolds, Kaitlyn Swanson and Kim Wright.

Members of the chorus are Ubah Cabdulaal, Tara Carlson, Maddie Engstrom, Hannah Forkrud, Hannah Huseby, Michaela Jahnke, Layne Kelly, Corin Kester, Molly Larson, Kiley Mattson, Brandon Mogard, Theresa Molenaar, Jasmine Moots, Emily Mord, Autumn Myers, Tori Raths, Jaylee Schanus, Samantha Schlecht, Linsey Stallman, Julie Stubblefield, Rachel Thein, Jolissa Thram, Kayla Watson and Amber Willis.

Stage crew members are Trent Flegel, Kennedy Holwerda and Tony Hunstad.

Running the lights and sound are Dalton Blumhoefer, Anna Burns, Brady Dyson, Katy LaPatka and Tom LaPatka.