Fans of American children’s author and illustrator Dr. Seuss will have the chance to witness the classic story Horton Hears a Who as it comes to life when actors take the stage for several performances of Seussical at Fort Wayne Civic Theatre, beginning Saturday, Feb. 12, at 7:30 p.m.

Seuss’ iconic Cat in the Hat character will narrate the story of Horton, an elephant whose mission is to protect a tiny speck of dust after he discovers an entire community known as Whoville lives on that spec.

“Horton faces a double challenge,” the Civic Theatre announced in a press release. “Not only must he protect the Whos from a world of naysayers and dangers, but he must guard an abandoned egg left in his care.

Although Horton faces ridicule, danger, kidnapping, and a trial, ultimately, the powers of friendship, loyalty, family and community emerge triumphant.”

Putting on a Show

Doug King, a veteran guest director at the Civic, says Seussical is a “fun-filled family show full of wackiness.”

“(Audiences) can come expecting some great music (and) some incredible performances,” King told Whatzup in an interview. “Also, the Civic Theatre here, this year, is putting all their big budget of technology into this show.”

Not only will the show feature advanced, high-budget lighting, but a number of high-flying acrobatic feats will be on display during the several performances this month.

“We also have two people that are aerialists. At one point, there will be two people doing silks, and at another point, there’s a girl doing lyra.

“And we have acrobats, so we have all kinds of stops that we’re pulling out for this show, including, of course, a wonderful set and beautiful, bright, colorful costumes.

“So just a lot of fun and a lot to look at. A lot to take in.”

King added that because the actors are volunteers, many have full-time jobs. This means that a production like Seussical is rehearsed and built within a particularly tight timeframe.

According to King, Seussical had just five weeks to “put everything together,” then one week of “tech,” which is when the show is rehearsed with technical elements in place, like lights and sound.

Asset to Theater

King, who is New Haven resident, grew up with local theater in northeast Indiana and boasts a strong list of shows he’s directed at Civic Theatre.

“I actually did a show — I did Can-Can — with Phillip Colglazier, the executive director at (the) Civic Theatre, in 1979.”

After touring for Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat, King’s prowess and knowledge of the musical attracted the attention of Colglazier when Civic Theatre planned to put on the same musical a while later.

“Once Phillip took over and they were going to do Joseph, he thought it would be good to get me in to give some ‘tour insight’ on their project,” King said.

Since then, King says, Colglazier has invited him to direct a number of shows.

“And ever since then, he’s had me back as a guest director pretty consistently every year, which is very nice because I love the work that they do there, and I love having the work also. So, once a year, usually, I’m in as guest director.”

Family Affair

The Civic Theatre performance of Seussical will have a few slight changes that may boost audience enjoyment of the spectacle.

“We’re taking some new twists,” King said. “The Sour Kangaroo character usually plays two parts: she plays Sour Kangaroo and Young Kangaroo, and the young kangaroo is (usually) a puppet.”

He says the kangaroo puppet will not be part of the local performance, however, and the character will have a bit more life than a puppet brings to the stage.

“Instead, we cast a young actress as the young kangaroo, so we’ve added a part there,” he said.

Another interesting aspect of the cast lies with the family of the show’s musical director, Ben Wedler.

“He’s the musical director, his wife is the bird girl, his daughter is this young kangaroo character we added, and his young son is in the show, too,” King said. “So, the whole family affair is involved with the show. That’s been neat, also, to work with.”

Tickets are available for 2 p.m. and 7:30 p.m. shows on several days beginning Saturday, Feb. 12, through Sunday, Feb. 27.