Each season, the Butterfield Stage Youth department has seen an increase in the number of young people wanting to be a part of the theater. For the group’s most recent production, “Seussical Jr.,” there were about 80 children that auditioned for the show.


Butterfield Youth Director Shannon Rivoire said that was quite a change from when she started at the youth theater.


“My first year at Butterfield in the first production there were about 32 children that auditioned and everyone was cast in the show,” she said. “Actually, it was like that for the first two shows that I did here.”


“Seussical Jr.,” which opened Thursday at Gainesville’s old Carnegie theater, has 34 cast members that range in age from 6-17 years. The musical will show Saturday at 7:30 p.m. and Sunday at 2:30 p.m. The Butterfield youth will return to the stage with the production Aug. 17-19.


“This group is full of some amazing singers,” Rivoire said. “They are really just amazing and during every rehearsal, I am constantly surprised at what they can do.”


Rivoire also said that she has also seen the children grow on the stage. As the season closer for Butterfield, Rivoire said that audience will be surprised as well.


“The youth program here has just exploded,” she said. “We see a minimum of 70 children auditioning at each show. We cannot cast them all, so they end up coming back two or three times and we always tell them that if they are not cast this time, try again next time.”


Rivoire said the group she has at Butterfield is amazing and that is why she expects every showing of “Seussical Jr” to be amazing.


“‘Seussical Jr.’ is a one act show and runs about an hour and 10 minutes,” Rivoire said. “It is fun for the whole family. It is a PG show. It is bright and there will be colorful costumes. It is a lot of fun for the actors as well as for the audience.”


Written by Tony award winners Lynn Ahrens and Stephen Flaherty, characters in “Seussical Jr.” include Horton the Elephant and the Cat in the Hat from Dr. Seuss books. The play is a fantastical musical.


“Transporting audiences from the Jungle of Nool to the Circus McGurkus, the Cat in the Hat narrates the story of Horton the Elephant, who discovers a speck of dust containing tiny people called the Whos,” a Butterfield release explained of the plot of the show.


Butterfield Stage Theater is located at 201 Denton St. in Gainesville. Tickets are now on sale and can be purchased online at butterfield.org or by calling the box office at 940-665-1284.


For more information, visit the Butterfield Facebook, Instagram and Twitter pages or call the office at 940-665-8152. Office hours are Monday through Thursday from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m.