“The concept of ‘Seussical’ itself starts with a blank stage. It’s the excitement of what could be, and the possibility of what can happen,” says Jennifer Sansfacon, assistant professor of theater at the University of Wisconsin–Stout.
Sansfacon is the technical director and resident designer for the theater productions. This spring, the theater is performing “Seussical” a compilation of popular Dr. Seuss’ literature, which includes references to childhood favorites like “Green Eggs and Ham,” and “Horton Hears a Who!” However, it is not only the storyline that pulls us into the world of Dr. Seuss; the scenery of Dr. Seuss’ world must immerse us as well.
With the help of her Theater Practicum students and stagehands, Sansfacon has brought to life the ideations of scenic designs, which were simple concepts in December. When asked how many hours the sets required work, her response was clear: “Girl, you don’t even want to know.”
The sets on stage all came to fruition in the mind of Sansfacon. Well, all but one. Elizabeth Jeppesen, university student and assistant scenic designer, was tasked with her own major project. After formulating her concepts over winter break, Jeppesen was ready to begin building and painting her piece.
“It’s slightly scary,” says Jeppesen, in regards to her scenic responsibilities. “[I have] a lot of power, and it’s sometimes almost too much.” Now, what began as a makeshift bookshelf has turned into a multipurpose construct, which will be featured throughout the production.
Constructs must be placed, moved and changed accordingly. These are the types of challenges both Jeppesen and Sansfacon face. “There are some [set pieces] that allow themselves for generalities, and some things that are very specific about what they ask for,” adds Sansfacon. This means that complex sets may only be used once in the show.
Sets, colors, lights, costumes, makeup and props only add more to the voice of each actor and actress.
“We’re not necessary for theater to exist, I don’t have to be there. So it’s very humbling,” explains Sansfacon. “Now, that said, would we understand Suess without some of the grandeur of sets, lights and costumes? I don’t think we would.”
Performances of “Seussical the Musical” will be on March 30 and 31, and April 1, 7 and 8 at 7:30 p.m. and April 8 at 1:30 p.m. Tickets are $12 for adults and $6 for children under the age of 12.