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The Cat in the Hat, played by Isaac Smith, bursts onto the scene, flanked by Anah Harris, left, and Trey Gordon.

The biggest show the Davenport Junior Theatre has done in nearly 20 years  will spring to life this Saturday when the curtain opens on "Seussical Jr."

The show that also is the group's first Broadway production in nearly 10 years will be performed at the theater on the Annie Wittenmyer Center campus, Davenport.

The musical involves 43 students from about 10 area cities and towns, filling the roles of actors, crew members, tech board operators and front-of-house team members.

“For the most part, the music is exactly the same as found in the Broadway version of Seussical," director Jessica Sheridan said in a news release.

"Tough harmonies, big ranges and lots of music. It's a sixty-five minute show and about two minutes of it is spoken word. Otherwise it's all singing. And dancing. Lots of dancing.

"We've been in rehearsals 22-plus hours a week for the past six weeks," Sheridan said. "That's a lot for anyone, much less students who are also trying to balance school, jobs, other extracurricular activities and social lives.”

In the story of "Seussical Jr.," the show unfolds through the eyes of JoJo, a small child who is visited by the Cat in the Hat. Themes include friendship, loyalty, family and community

“My favorite line in the show is ‘a person’s a person no matter how small,’” Sheridan said. “The show is about how everyone counts and everyone matters. These kids matter."

Founded in 1951, Davenport Junior Theatre is billed as the nation's second-oldest children's theater and is a uniquely Quad-City institution. Its motto is to make theater "for kids, by kids," with professionals working alongside to create a dynamic theater experience.

In late fall, the theater finished an $180,000 renovation to put it in good shape to help future generations of children enjoy the fun and learn the practical skills of theater and dance.

The work included new paint, new carpet, a sound system upgrade and 367 new, more comfortable red seats, replacing the dated orange theater chairs.

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