If you get a chance to sit down and talk to Park Avenue Elementary School fourth graders Cayden Brown and Fiona Contino, you will quickly see why they were chosen to star in their school’s sold-out production of “Seussical Kids” this weekend. The two leads are expressive, well-spoken and very enthusiastic.
This will be the first musical performance on the Park Avenue stage since “The Jungle Book Kids” in 2019. The Park Avenue Drama Club produced a video version of “Annie” in 2020 and performed “101 Dalmatians Kids” outdoors in 2021.
Cayden and Fiona were both singing Dalmatians last year. This year they have starring roles. Cayden is Horton the Elephant and Fiona is Gertrude McFuzz. Both have solos to sing and more lines to learn this year.
“I didn’t really know which part I was going to get for” Seussical Kids”, Fiona said. “I just wanted a big singing roll maybe, or a big talking role. I was just really surprised to get Gertrude. I didn’t know I’d have a whole song to remember. For my audition, I was actually sick so I had to sing in a video of my reading all of the lines and singing “Happy Birthday”.
Cayden found out he got the part of Horton when his mother, Park Avenue Drama Club Director Christy Brown, mentioned something about an elephant.
“I got the part, not because my mom is the director, but because I worked as hard as I can and I put a lot of effort into it,” Cayden said matter-of-factly. “I mostly practiced singing “Happy Birthday” and reading the lines. I didn’t audition for Horton. I just wanted to get a good part in the show.”
Cayden and Fiona, who often finished each other’s sentences when talking about the show, both said rehearsals have been really, really fun. Neither one could name a favorite scene because they both like the entire show.
Producer Amy Buliung is very proud of Cayden, Fiona and all 66 members of the cast.
“It takes a lot of courage to get up on stage and perform,” Ms. Buliung said. “They have worked hard and continue to amaze us with their talents”.
The preparation for the musical has been going very smoothly, including a dress rehearsal with lights, props and microphones.
“It’s really fun getting miked, but it’s also a challenge for you if you’re like a very talkative person, sometimes like me,” Cayden said. “The microphone lets you challenge yourself to not talk because it picks up lots and lots of things.”
Cayden and Fiona lead a large cast, which is backed up by many parent volunteers who handle everything from set design and construction to costumes.
“Park Ave Drama Club involves so many, from our parent volunteers and chaperones to our middle school and high school helpers assisting with choreography and lines,” said Ms. Brown, who is also a music teacher in the middle school. “I am so grateful to be in such a supportive community. Our kids are so lucky to be in such a positive culture.”
The microphone lets you challenge yourself to not talk because it picks up lots and lots of things. -