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Menahga middle schoolers set to perform

The cast of “The Seussification of Romeo & Juliette” includes, from left , Christian Johnson, Sam Magana, Kendra Kako, Makayla Hillukka, Maddie Thene, Emma Jackson, Janie Tormanen, and Caitlin Kalita. They’ll perform for the public at 7 p.m. on Saturday, May 14 at the Menahga gymnasium. At right, student directors Anna Besonen and Kaeden Berg are coaching the budding actors. (Shannon Geisen/Enterprise)

This spring, Menahga junior Kaeden Berg secured a $3,045 grant from Five Wings Arts Council for "a middle school theatre experience" project.

Berg and freshman Anna Besonen are directing middle schoolers to star in "The Seussification of Romeo and Juliet."

Eighteen actors, ranging from sixth to eighth grade, have been rehearsing for several weeks and will perform for Menahga students Friday, May 13.

A public performance will be held at the Menahga gym 7 p.m. on Saturday, May 14. Freewill donations are welcome.

"It’ll be incredibly Seussified in costumes and, of course, it’s going to rhyme," Besonen said.

A whimsical reinvention of Shakespeare’s tragic love story, complete with rhymed couplets, creative wordplay and fantastical machines, "The Seussification of Romeo and Juliet" is similar to something Dr. Seuss would have come up with if he ever had his way with the script.

The one-act play runs approximately a half-hour to hour.

Menahga Drama Coach Brian Hobson and English teacher Jennifer Berg are serving as consultants for the student-led production.

Berg and Besonen hope the middle school production will become an annual tradition.

"We wanted to expand theater to the younger kids," Besonen said. "I’ve heard so many complaints by my sibling and her friends that there isn’t enough art."

Brett Stenerson portrays Romeo and his sweetheart Juliet is Kiara Kocurek. Makayla Hilluka and Kendra Kako will be narrators. Clara Bucher portrays Lady Capitulate, while Janie Tormanen is the Cat in the Hat. Brock Mullen will be Paris and Christian Johnson is Mercutio. Other cast members include Caitlin Kalita, Emma Jackson, Erica Kicker, T’kya Samuel, Lola Clow, Madison Thene, Samara Megana and Mia Lumbar.