Park Hill South caters musical production to young audience

JEANETTE BROWNING FAUBION/Citizen photo Park Hill South theatre students, from left to right, Bryce Karigan, Janae Hammond, Alyse Weatherford and Mikala Petillo perform during a dress rehearsal Nov. 5 for Seussical, a musical set for production this weekend. RIVERSIDE, Mo. — Park Hill South High School will take a turn into zany this week with a presentation of Seussical the Musical, catered specifically for younger audiences.

Performances will be held at 7 p.m. on Nov. 13 and 14 and at 3 p.m. Nov. 15. Tickets are now on sale and cost $8 for adults and $6 for children age 10 and younger. Tickets may be reserved by calling theater teacher Kyle Lackey at (816) 359-6265 or emailing

While this marks a first for Park Hill South, the show is a familiar one for Lackey, who came to Park Hill this year after a stint as a theater teacher at Raytown South Middle School.

“This is my first year in the district, and we felt comfortable doing a production I had directed in the past,” Lackey said. Additionally, students wanted to take on a project lighter and more cheerful compared to last year’s production of The Phantom of the Opera.

Seussical, unsurprisingly, is based on the works of Dr. Seuss, and features bright set pieces and energetic performances starring familiar characters such as the Cat in the Hat and Horton the Elephant. The show premiered on Broadway in 2000 and has since toured theater companies both professional and amateur.

Students in starring roles were chosen after a three-day audition process when hopefuls had to perform one of the songs and a scene from the show.

“We have an extremely talented music and orchestra program here at the school,” Lackey said. “We felt like the music in Seussical would be an awesome challenge for them to take on.”

The auditions also included a session with the professional choreographer, Dianna Pfaff of Miss Dianna’s School of Dance, located on North Oak in Kansas City, Mo. Her involvement with the Park Hill theater program started 30 years ago with West Side Story, produced by then-Park Hill theater teacher Kelly McNabb. When McNabb, now Park Hill South assistant principal, made the move south, she brought Pfaff with her.

Pfaff’s experience with teaching dance to students from the day they can toddle has come in handy for this production.

“This show is visually interesting with a lot of action to keep children interested,” she said. “It is a fun story that children and adults alike will be drawn into.”