Newtown puts on show with help from Broadway professionals

Published 10:23 am Thursday, August 8, 2013

NEWTOWN, Conn. — More than 100 children from the Newtown area are putting on a musical this weekend with the help of some Broadway professionals.

The students have spent the last five weeks working with actor John Tartaglia, director Michael Unger, producer Van Dean and others on “Seussical the Musical.”

It is being put on by the 12.14 Foundation, which was established after the Dec. 14 massacre at the Sandy Hook Elementary School as a way to help town residents heal through the arts.

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“The planet Who is a place that has gone through hardships and a lot of tough times — and then Horton the elephant comes along and helps them keep safe and helps them heal,” Madi Aug, who plays a Birdgirl in the production, said in a news release from the producers. “I feel like this show and everyone involved in it are like the ‘Hortons of Newtown’ because they’re really helping us get through and heal through this situation. It really means a lot to me and everyone in this town.”

The children, more than 80 of whom have roles in the show, range in age from 5 to 18. The show will be staged at Newtown High school Friday through Sunday. There are two separate casts for the show, and each is putting on two performances.

The proceeds from the shows go to the foundation, which intends to build a performing arts center in Newtown in memory of the 20 children and six educators who were killed at the elementary school.

“I personally feel that it is all of our responsibility to support these children and young adults most affected by 12/14,” said Michael Baroody, a plastic surgeon and resident of Newtown who started the foundation. “Not in a way that pities them but rather through their hard work, discipline and commitment to the production. The students are being treated like professional actors and they are realizing their potential for excellence.”