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Newtown kids join Broadway to put on 'healing' musical

In an effort to help local residents in the healing process nearly nine months after the deadly shootings at Sandy Hook Elementary School, a group of more than 100 Newtown children and several Broadway professionals have teamed up to put on a musical this weekend. Tony Award-nominated actor John Tartaglia, director Michael Unger and producer Van Dean have worked with 80 students from the Newtown a
John Tartaglia, playing Cat in the Hat, and Jane Sheeran, playing JoJo, act out a scene during the dress rehearsal of Seussical at Newtown High School in Newtown, Conn. on Wednesday, August 7, 2013.
John Tartaglia, playing Cat in the Hat, and Jane Sheeran, playing JoJo, act out a scene during the dress rehearsal of Seussical at Newtown High School in Newtown, Conn. on Wednesday, August 7, 2013.Tyler Sizemore / Today

In an effort to help local residents in the healing process nearly nine months after the deadly shootings at Sandy Hook Elementary School, a group of more than 100 Newtown children and several Broadway professionals have teamed up to put on a musical this weekend.

Tony Award-nominated actor John Tartaglia, director Michael Unger and producer Van Dean have worked with 80 students from the Newtown area ages 5 to 18 on a performance of “Seussical: The Musical” that will run from Aug. 9-11 at Newtown High School. The event is being put on by the 12.14 Foundation, which was formed after the shooting at the elementary school in Newtown on Dec. 14, 2012, that resulted in the deaths of 20 children and six educators.

"I am so excited to perform with these amazing kids," Tartaglia said in a statement. "Live theater is a great way to help encourage healing and positive expression, as well as entertain and bring people together, and this is a perfect show to accomplish this."

"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," performer Madi Aug, who plays a Birdgirl in the musical, said in a news release. "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."

Tartaglia will star as the Cat in the Hat in Seussical, which is based on the children’s books by Dr. Seuss. The authors of Seussical, the Tony Award-winning team of Lynn Ahrens and Stephen Flaherty, also visited during the five weeks of rehearsals leading up to this weekend’s production. More than 80 children will perform in the show, which features two separate casts that will each put on two performances. Nearly twenty other students are helping with the direction, choreography, stage crew, lighting, costume design, sound design and construction.

All proceeds go to the 12.14 Foundation, which is raising money to build a performance center and create educational performing arts programs in Newtown.