Dartmouth performers shine in 'Seussical the Musical'

By Douglas McCulloch | May 11, 2017
Photo by: Douglas McCulloch Emerson Clarke plays the Cat in the Hat.

Eighth grader Emerson Clarke has a lot of hats to wear.

The Dartmouth Middle School student and long-time actress took on the role of the Cat in the Hat in the SouthCoast Children’s Theatre’s Seussical the Musical, a mish-mash of various Dr. Seuss tales all packed into a feature-length production. It’s a pivotal role for the May 12 and 13 shows, Clarke explained.

“I’m like the narrator of the show. I talk to the audience and tell all of the other characters what to do,” Clarke said.

But her role is a challenging one, requiring quite a variety of expressions as the musical progresses.

“My role is difficult because so many times I have to change into different characters,” Clarke explained. “Am I serious, playing around, or angry?”

The show marked the final performance in Clarke’s tenure with the children’s theatre. She joined after she saw a production of Peter Pan four years ago.

“I sat in the audience and saw everyone having a great time and said, ‘I want to do that,’” Clarke recalled.

Clarke’s first role on stage was as Little Fiona in “Shrek the Mucial Jr.”

“I remember I was very nervous, but I loved being on stage,” Clarke recalled.

Joining Clarke on stage was fellow Dartmouth eighth grader Jackson Neves. He played Horton, an elephant who always gets himself into trouble.

“He can’t say ‘no’ to anyone, so he gets himself in a lot of messes,” Neves said. At one point in the musical, Horton is forced to care for an egg left unattended amid several other major crises unfolding around him, Neves explained.

It’s his favorite part about his role, but before every rehearsal, Neves spends about 15 minutes settling into his character.

Like Clarke, Neves began his acting career after seeing a show by the group. Both will leave the program at the end of the year and move on to Dartmouth High School, where they plan on continuing theater.

Seussical the Musical was the tenth yearly production of the SouthCoast Children’s Theatre. Seventy-five performers took the stage for the production, said board member Melissa Boucher.

“It just seemed perfect for us. It’s family friendly – all of our shows are – and we always have to keep in mind what we have for talent,” Boucher explained of the current show.

Jackson Neves sits center stage as Horton the elephant. (Photo by: Douglas McCulloch)
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