ART BEAT: 16-year-old to direct Lionheart's "Suessical Jr."


Holley Calmes

One young Gwinnett artist is enjoying a summer filled with challenging artistic experiences.

Sam Casey, son of Lionheart Theatre’s Sean and Chris Casey, is at the helm of the play “Seussical Jr.” as its director, managing and inspiring dozens of other teen actors and technical workers. The play will run July 19-21 at the theatre’s Norcross Cultural Arts and Community Center, located at 10 College St.

Sam will be leading an all-teen crew of actors, plus a group of behind-the-scenes technical experts. Parkview senior Anna Camp is choreographer and costumer; Greater Atlanta Christian School senior Maggie Clark is vocal coach; Meadowcreek junior Cameron Southerland is stage manager, and GACS junior Katie Davis and Parkview senior Chandler Smith are handling lights and sound. There are 23 actors in the cast, ranging from 7 to 17 years of age.

Some of the performers are young artists who moved from summer camp to the main stage. Dozens auditioned for the coveted parts.

“I am particularly gratified when a camper moves to the next level and makes it into an audition show,” said Lionheart director Tanya Caldwell.

The play is based on the works of the beloved author, Dr. Seuss. “The Cat in the Hat” tells the story of Horton the elephant who discovers a speck of dust containing Whos. Horton faces a double challenge — not only must he protect the Whos from a world of naysayers and dangers, but he must guard an abandoned egg, left to his care by the irresponsible Mayzie La Bird. Horton faces ridicule, danger, kidnapping and a trial but, ultimately, the powers of friendship, loyalty, family, and community emerge triumphant.

“This show was left completely to Sam and his teen crew,” Caldwell said.

Sam Casey will be a junior at Greater Atlanta Christian School next year. He has been involved in theater since he was 5 years old. Last year, he directed “Jungle Book” for Lionheart. He has also won an honorable mention in the Secular High School Music Awards for his portrayal of the WIZ in GACS’s production of “The Wiz” and Best Supporting Actor in the Georgia High School One Act Play competition.

“Not only am I working with some friends from school, but new friends with incredible talents from other high schools are involved,” he said. “We get to feed off each other creatively, and we push each other to perform better and better. I have a county all-star team of actors to work with.”

Lead roles include Eric Baylot, a Meadowcreek senior, as Horton the Elephant; Maggie Clark of GAC as Gertrude McFuzz; GAC sophomore Rachel Finnazao as Amazing Myrtle; Stefani Shephard, a sophomore at Dunwoody High School as the Sour Kangaroo; GAC eighth-grader Dorey Casey as the Cat in the Hat; and Mitsue Ostapiuk, a fifth-grader at GAC, as Jojo.

Performances are July 19 at 7:30 p.m., July 20 at 2 p.m. and 7:30 p.m., and , July 21 at 2 p.m. All seats are $10. For reservation or to purchase tickets, call 770-885-0425 or visit www.lionhearttheatre.org

Holley Calmes is a freelance writer and public relations consultant specializing in the arts. Email her at hcalmes@mindspring.com.


SusanL 2 years, 2 months ago

I remember Sam performing with his family years ago for a Read Across America event at the library. I'm so happy to see this talented young man pursuing his love for acting.


SusanL 2 years, 2 months ago

I saw Sam perform with his whole family in a Dr. Suess play for Read Across America some years ago. So glad to see this talented young man pursuing his love of acting.


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