Bonnie Kate Community Theater invites audience on a ‘wild whimsical ride’ with ‘Seussical The Musical’

Published 1:07 pm Friday, April 7, 2023

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By Lynn J. Richardson
Theater lovers of all ages are invited to enter the magical, whimsical world of Dr. Seuss when the cast of Seussical The Musical takes the stage at the historic Bonnie Kate Theater in Elizabethton the last two weekends of April.
Seussical The Musical will be performed April 21, 22, 28 and 29 at 7:30 p.m. nightly with matinee performances on Sunday afternoons, April 23 and 30, at 2:30 p.m.
Tickets are $15 for adults and $10 for students/children 18 and under. Tickets are available online at and advance purchase is recommended.
Renee Christian, director and president of the Bonnie Kate Community Theater, says she is excited to bring the play to Elizabethton because she believes it is one that will appeal to everyone.
“This is a wild ride through a mishmash and a kind of reimagining of some of Dr. Seuss’ most beloved stories and characters,” Christian said. “Audience members will be entertained by the Cat in the Hat, the Grinch, Horton The Elephant, Thing 1 and Thing 2, Mayzie La Bird, Gertrude McFuzz, all of the Whos down in Whoville, Yertyl the Turtle, the Wickershams and more. Children, their parents and their teachers will recognize about all of them.”
Eleven-year-old Bentley Forinash of Elizabethton has the role of Jo Jo, a little boy who will be the voice of the audience, Christian said. “He will come up on stage and he will be viewing all of this creative imaginative world of Dr. Seuss. Then, he will go on an adventure — to Whoville, to the Jungle of Nool and more — and he will take the audience along with him.”
The cast for Seussical is large. It includes 35 actors, who range in age from 5 to 75, and when off-stage crew members are counted, the age goes to 78.
“Within that group, some have done lots of theater before,” Christian said. “Others have done this on a whim. They did this in high school and just decided to come out and give it another whirl. Others are brand new and will be making their theatrical debut in Seussical.
“There are families and couples doing this together. For example, we have a father and his three daughters, (their mother made their costumes), a husband and wife team, a mother and daughter, two best friends, two sisters, and a boyfriend/girlfriend couple.
And while the large number of cast members is impressive, Christian says that is just the tip of the iceberg.
“If you count up all of the people involved, the cast, the crew, the Friends of the Bonnie Kate who is the board who raised the money to make this happen, the wonderful businesses here in Elizabethton and Johnson City who took out ads for the program, volunteers, and parents who brought their children to be in the play and then stayed to help, then we have involved at least 100 people. This has been a regional effort with involvement and support from individuals and businesses in Elizabethton, Johnson City, Jonesborough, Kingsport and Bristol.”
Christian said the choices for plays offered by the Bonnie Kate Community Theater are considered carefully. “They have to meet certain criteria. They must be family-friendly and offer our young people a chance to come and learn the art of theater. The citizens of Elizabethton have told me this over and over again that this is what they want for their children, and it is also a great creative outlet for teens and adults.
“When people leave this performance, we hope they leave with the message of the play which is to be open to new ‘thinks,’” Christian said, adding a Dr. Seuss quote, “Oh, the thinks you can think!”
“We want to give the audience permission to tap into the playful imaginative world of Dr. Seuss and make it their own. We want them to be open to the message that this is a wonderful world. Go out and experience it and think of all the wonderful things you can be, and all the wonderful things you can do.
“We hope people leave saying ‘Wow! That was amazing. We had such a good time,’” she added. “I hope we can bring them into the world of Dr. Seuss where they can just leave the real world behind for a couple of hours.”
Seussical The Musical is produced with special permission by Music Theatre International. Music is by Stephen Flaherty with lyrics by Lynn Ahrens. It is based on the book by Stephen Flaherty and Lynn Ahrens, co-conceived by Stephen Flaherty, Lynn Ahrens and Eric Idle based on the works of Dr. Seuss.
The historic Bonnie Kate Theater is located at 115 South Sycamore Street, in downtown Elizabethton, Tenn. For more information and tickets, go to

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