Showcasing inclusivity, breaking boundaries: DVC presents ‘Seussical: The Musical’


Eric Dionne

The cast of “Suessical” practicing during rehearsal. (Eric Dionne/The Inquirer).

Aryana Hadjimohammadi, Staff member

From whimsical characters to energetic singing, Diablo Valley College’s Drama department is running its first production of “Seussical the Musical.” “Seussical” is directed by Lisa Drummond, Drama Department Chair at DVC. She wanted to direct “Seussical” because of its main message of inclusivity. 

“I love the main idea of the story, that a person’s a person no matter how small, meaning that everybody is valid,” said Drummond. “No matter how small you are, your thoughts, your ideas are just as important as others’.”

“Seussical” is based on the books of Dr. Seuss, including “Horton Hears a Who” and “Horton Catches the Egg.” Some of the leading roles of the musical are the Cat in the Hat played by Hayley Kennen, Jojo played by Janae Hood, and Sour the Kangaroo played by Toniea Hawkins.

There are around 70 people who worked on the musical, including costume designers, hair and makeup designers, set designers, stage management, and 31 cast members. Kennen described some of her personal challenges with playing the cat; she is breaking traditions and gender roles with the character.

“People think of a guy when they think of these roles,” said Kennen. “So I’m already kind of fighting that precedent, that stereotype. I make it my own, but I also stay pretty true to the way the cat is.”

“Seussical” is filled with different kinds of characters, from sassy to childlike. According to Hawkins, playing Sour the Kangaroo, has been a bit of a challenge for her. When Horton the Elephant finds a tiny planet called Whoville in a speck of dust, Sour the Kangaroo tries to convince everyone that Horton is crazy and the planet doesn’t exist.

Hawkins has struggled a bit with playing a part that is out of touch with her own personality; the role of the malicious kangaroo challenges her to portray other sides of herself as an actress.

“Being able to play her and being able to stand out is really fun for me,” said Hawkins.

Cast members not only had to overcome the challenges the play poses, but they also had to juggle going to school full-time and working part-time. Kennen emphasizes the importance of keeping mental health as a priority.

“We put work ahead of our mental health and school that it kind of overwhelms us,” said Kennen. “We have to work, we need money, and we have to be in these shows, we need to have a bigger resume.”

Hawkins, who attends California State East Bay, takes five courses, has a part time job, and is one of the lead roles in Seussical. Despite the heavy workload, she loves coming to rehearsal every day and being with her cast members.

“I’m so glad I did it. It’s been a good escape from the stress of school, stress of work,” said Hawkins. “Being able to come here and do what I love, it has been so much fun, and being with Lisa and working with all these new people has definitely been de-stressing.”

Drummond and the designers have been working on the musical since the end of spring. The cast members have started prepping on Sept. 3, rehearsing five days a week, practicing lines, singing, and dancing. For some, the cast is not just people they work with but a family unit.

“Being one of the older people in the cast, I kind of feel like the people in the cast are like my babies,” said Hawkins. “I love them, they’re so sweet. We’re so close and it’s been really fun getting to know them and they are like my family.”

Drummond believes that “Seussical” is worth watching because of its “magical ability” to give cheerfulness to others in a time of crisis.

“It’s filled with joy and at a time now where we’re living in a kind of a world where there’s lots of turmoil and angst, it’s a great, wonderful escape…” she said.  “I think it’s a great story to tell right now because of its sweetness, its kindness and its joy.”

“Seussical” will be showing at DVC from Oct. 18 to Nov. 3 in the Performing Arts Center. Prices are $21 for adults, $11 for students, $16 for senior, and $16 for faculty and staff. Tickets can be purchased online