Seussical talent

The beloved stories of Dr. Seuss are set to music in this lively adaptation of the Broadway show

November 9, 2005

“Seussical: The Musical” began its run last week at Hood River Valley High School’s Bowe Theatre with all the energy, color and zaniness you would expect from a Dr. Seuss-inspired play.

“After three years of heavy, gothic themes – Jane Eyre/Jekyll & Hyde, Les Miserables -- we thought it was time to do something lighter and more family friendly,” director Mark Steighner says.

The musical is full of bright color and lively music in a broad range of styles, including funk, blues, ragtime, rock, pop and torch songs. And at its core is the genius of Theodor Seuss Geisel, better known as Dr. Seuss.

“Seussical” opened on Broadway in 2000 and after a relatively short run, toured the country twice. Now the musical has become very popular with school, community and regional theaters. It was conceived by Eric Idle, of Monty Python fame, Lynn Ahrens and Stephen Flaherty; the latter two (who also wrote the Tony award-winning musical, “Ragtime”) wrote the story and lyrics.

Ahrens and Flaherty managed to weave together material from more than a dozen of the 44 books Geisel published during his 87-year lifetime. Well-known characters like Horton, the Whos, and the Grinch join lesser-knowns such as the Sour Kangaroo, Gertrude McFuzz, and General Ghengis Khan Schmitz, in a story set in familiar Seuss scenes: the Jungle of Nool, Circus McGurkus, and others.

The basic story -- sort of a blend of “Horton Hears a Who” and “Horton Hatches the Egg,” with many characters and phrases from other books -- follows the trials and tribulations of Jojo, a young Who from Whoville, (Elijah Maletz), and Horton the Elephant (Joel Valle), both misunderstood in their respective worlds.

Acting as a kind of guide through the scenes is the Cat in the Hat, played by Kelsey Brauer. The troublemaking cat also complicates Jojo’s life by encouraging the imaginative thinking that always gets the boy in trouble.

Big-hearted Horton is ridiculed for believing there is life on a speck of dust and for being silly enough to sit on an egg.

Steighner describes the set design as “minimal,” but says that costuming the dozens of actors was a large task. He credits parent volunteers Kelli Wade, LaJuana Decker, Kathy Peldyak and designers at Helen’s Pacific Costumes in Portland with most of the effort.

The musical is suitable for all ages. Steighner describes a reaction one child had to The Cat in the Hat (played by Kelsey Brauer) after a performance for kids.

“She went up to Kelsey and asked, ‘Are you the real Cat in the Hat?’” he says, imitating the child’s breathless excitement. “Kelsey answered that she was, and the child said, ‘I’ve seen BOTH of your movies!’”

*****

Performances remaining include Nov. 11, 12, 18 and 19 at 7 p.m., and Nov. 12 and 19 at 1:30 p.m. Tickets are $7 for adults and $5 for students, and are available at Waucoma Books and at the door.

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Parkdale third graders sing "12 Disaster Days of Christmas"

Welcome to your sing-able Christmas gift list. What follows is an emergency rendition of “12 Days of Christmas” – for outfitting your home or car in case of snow storm, earthquake, flood or other emergency. Read it as a simple list, or sing it to the tune of “12 Days” – you know, as in “ … and a partridge in a pear tree…” Not to make light of it, but the song is a familiar framework for a set of gift ideas that you could consider gathering together, even if the recipient already owns items such as a bunch of coats, tire chains and flashlights. Stores throughout the Gorge are stocked up on all these items. Buying all 12 days might be prohibitive, but here are three ideas for checking any of the dozen off your list (notations follow, 1-12.) The gift items needed to stay warm, dry and safe are also coded to suggest items in your abode (A) in your car (C) or both (B). 12 Gallons of Water (A) 11 Family meals (B) 10 Cans of propane (A) 9 Hygiene bags (B) 8 Packs of batteries (A) 7 Spare coats (B) 6 Bright red flares (C) 5 Cozy blankets (B) 4 Tire chains (C) 3 Flashlights (B) 2 cell phone chargers (B) 1 And a crush-proof first aid kit (B) Price ranges? Here’s a few quotes for days Three, Two, Four and Nine: n A family gift of flashlights (three will run $15-30, Hood River Supply, Tum-A-Lum) n Cell phone chargers (two will run $30-60) n Tire chains (basic set, $30, Les Schwab, returnable if unused for the winter) n Family meals ($100 or so should cover the basics for three or four reasonably well-fed days) n The home kit should be kept in a handy place near an exit, and remember that water needs to be replenished every few months. If you have a solid first aid kit already, switch out the gift idea with “and-a-sto-o-u-t- tub-for it-all …” Otherwise, it’s a case of assembling your home or car kits and making sure all members of the family know what the resources are and how to use them (ie flares and propane). Emergency situations are at worst life-threatening, at best deeply uncomfortable if you and your family are left without power for an extended period, or traveling and find yourself in a situation where you need to wait out a storm, lengthy traffic delay, or other crisis. Notes on the 12 gift ideas: 12 – Gallons of water: that’s one per person in a four-member family to last for three days, the recommended minimum to be prepared for utility outages. 11 – Easy-open packaged goods, energy bars, dried food and nuts are good things to include for nutrition. Think of what your family of four needs for three days to stay fortified and hydrated (see number 12). Can-opener also recommended 10 – If you have a propane camping stove, keep extra fuel handy. 9 – Hygiene bags: put packaged moistened towelettes, toilet paper, and plastic ties in large garbage bags (for personal sanitation) Resource list courtesy of Hood River County Emergency Management, Barbara Ayers, manager/ 541-386-1213. The county also reminds residents to Get a Kit, Make A Plan to connect your family if separated, and Stay Informed. See www.co.hood-river.or.us to opt-in for citizen alerts. Enlarge



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