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Cast Spotlight: Raymond Nelson and Rachel

by Noah King

 

“Seussical Jr.,” the next licensed musical being performed by STEP VA Inc., a 501(c)3 nonprofit that “empowers individuals with disabilities and their families through creative expression and sensory exploration” is coming up in a month. The show is based on the works of Dr. Seuss (who else?), among them, his 1954 book “Horton Hears A Who.” Raymond Nelson and Rachel play the leaders of the titular tribe, Mr. and Mrs. Mayor, respectively.

 

Rachel

Rachel likes the idea of playing Mrs. Mayor because “she is Jojo’s mom…and the wife of Mr. Mayor” (Warrick Couture plays Jojo).

 

“The part that I have is a lot bigger than last year’s,” Rachel said, comparing her role as Mrs. Mayor to her role as Marcie in “You’re A Good Man, Charlie Brown!,” STEP VA’s second licensed musical and their first to be performed at Courtland High School, where they will now be performing “Seussical Jr.”

 

“I am enjoying working with Raymond (The Mayor) again since opposite him in The Lion King,” Rachel said. “For the first time I get to work with Warrick (Jojo) in scenes and it has just been a pleasure. Mrs. Mayor is such an obscure character in Dr Seuss’ books. She is a stick figure. When I got the part of Mrs. Mayor, there was a big part of me that felt like the actor Ryan Gosling playing Ken in the movie ‘Barbie.’ As he said, ‘Ken was just an accessory to Barbie.’ But he found a way to make his character known and shine. That is what I want for Mrs. Mayor. She is more than just a mom and a politician’s wife. I want to add life, likeability, and relatability to her for the audience.”

 

Rachel’s favorite Dr. Seuss book is “The Cat in the Hat”. Her favorite character from the books is Horton the Elephant (played by Jim Carrey in the movie and played by unofficial STEPVA open mic night MC and fellow Adult Connect group member Noah Finch in the show).

 

“Hopefully [through this show], more people will want to come to STEP VA,” Rachel said.

 

Raymond Nelson

Raymond Nelson will be playing Mr. Mayor, a role famously inhabited by Steve Carrell in the 2008 animated film adaptation of “Horton” (who is not the same as Jeffrey Tambor’s mayor in the 2003 “Grinch” film), to Rachel’s “Mrs. Mayor”. He is excited to be a part of “Seussical Jr.”

 

“I like being the mayor of Whoville,” Nelson said.

 

Nelson’s favorite Dr. Seuss book is “Green Eggs and Ham.” His favorite character is Horton the Elephant.

 

“[The audience] will learn about Dr. Seuss, probably,” Nelson said.

 

Nelson last played Schroeder, one of Marcie’s friends, in “You’re A Good Man, Charlie Brown!” He said that although he learned to play the piano for “Charlie Brown,” he doubts that will help him much in this show.

 

The mayor of Whoville has passed a new law that says that audiences must get their tickets for STEPVA’s performance of “Seussical Jr.” before they run out, under penalty of FOMO! “Seussical Jr.” will be performed on April 13th and 14th at Courtland High School. To learn more about the show or to, you know, follow “the mayor’s new law”, please visit www.stepva.org

 

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STEP VA, Inc. is a 501c3 non-profit organization that provides sensory-based theater and arts programs for individuals with disabilities. Its vision is to transform the world by offering each individual the opportunity to flourish in the community.

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