Q&A with ‘Seussical’ director

Jennifer Engler, an associate professor for theatre and director of “Seussical the Musical,” discussed the selection, planning and casting of the play.

Q: Could you explain the play selection process? 

A: We meet in the spring semester. The committee is made up of performance, design, faculty and staff. We also have two students from each year that serve on the selection committee. The students are elected representatives from their respective classes. A student should have the opportunity to experience a full range of plays: Greek, Roman, restoration, Shakespeare, contemporary playwrights, women playwrights, new works and classic works.

Q. How was “Seussical the Musical” chosen?

A: “Seussical” actually came up in a very different way because the show that we had selected last year was “Chicago,” a very different show. We were unable to get the royalties for that show. So, “Seussical” was actually picked in the summer after we realized we were not going to get the royalties for [“Chicago”]. “Seussical” was chosen via a very different kind of selection process than the norm. We were also slotted to do a show in the Hays Theatre. This is not normally were we do our musicals. This gives us certain scenic constraints. Keeping in mind that we will be performing in the Hays Theatre, I felt that “Seussical” is a show that would be successful in that space.

Q: How were you selected to direct the show?

A: We look at our season. We try to decide which director would be well suited for shows we have selected. I am the person who is the choreographer on staff. It makes a lot of sense when we do a musical for me to direct and choreograph it because I can do both areas. That is probably how I ended up on “Seussical.”

Q: Did you have a lot of input into casting the show?

A: Absolutely. We cast all three shows for a semester in the first week. All shows are auditioned for at the same time. We cast all the shows at the same time so that we are not casting anybody in more than one main stage show. We are giving three people an opportunity rather than one person three opportunities.

Q: Do you see the audience being able to relate to the show?

A: I do. It is kind of fantastical. I do think there is a sweet story line. I think anybody who knows the story of “Horton Hears A Who!” and that idea of someone standing up for what they believe despite how they may be treated or perceived is very timely right now. We look at kids, and we see that need for them to hang on to their imagination, for them to explore and not feel different or persecuted because they have fantastical ideas. That is the heart of the show.

Click here for an audio file of the interview.

“Seussical the Musical”

When: 7:30 p.m., April 17-20

2:30 & 7:30 p.m., April 21 

2:30 p.m., April 22 

Where: Hays Theatre

TCU Walsh Center

Cost: $5 for students and faculty, $10 for the public