Cat in hat, elephant in tree; cast stages Seussical glee
Date: Thursday, November 12, 2009
The Seussical cast gathers for a photo and shows off their silly sides Nov. 7, between their matinee and evening performances.
Photo by Jennifer Fike
“Seussical” cast members Sarah Ballenger and Elyssa Albough put on their animal faces for the show’s debut Nov. 5.
By Jennifer Fike
Thursday night more than 60 cast members took to the stage, for opening night of “Seussical the Musical,” a fast-paced show featuring dozens of Seuss’ most-beloved characters.
“Seussical” casting was opened to PISD students, alumni and faculty. As a result, director Jason Brown, theater arts teacher at Clark Junior High, ended up with an assortment of amateur thespians ranging from elementary students to adults.
For approximately half of the cast, opening night marked their theatrical debut, said Brown, who introduced the play wearing, inexplicably, a turkey hat on his head. (He later said he felt his hat portrayed the spirit of Seuss, which is notably silly.)
While the new thespians may have been all jitters backstage, their nerves didn’t show under the limelight.
In fact, from the time the cast burst onto the stage, belting lines like “Oh, the things you can think when you think about Seuss,” the energy never stopped.
The Cat in the Hat, played by Schelbi Cantu, narrates the musical, at times portraying a jazz pianist, an auctioneer, a doctor and a reporter, all the while wearing a recognizable red and white floppy hat.
Colorful and kid-friendly, “Seussical” follows the complicated life of the misunderstood Horton, played by Alex Bourque.
Though kept light by upbeat songs and costumes that included fluffy monkey hats and bright plumage, “Seussical” manages to explore themes such as self-confidence and courage while encouraging the sort of wild imagination for which Seuss himself was known.
Early in the play Horton, an elephant who prides himself on being “faithful 100 percent,” discovers a small world called Who living on a clover.
After befriending the tiniest Who, Jojo, who was played by Sirena-Raye Bingman and C.C. Largent, Horton vows to protect the small world, but soon encounters all kinds of trouble.
He is discouraged by a Sour Kangaroo, Katie Carl, and later deterred from his mission by Mayzie La Bird, Jessie Fike.
Mayzie is a boisterous songbird who enjoys shaking her tail feathers and convinces Horton to sit on her egg.
Between songs and skipping town, Mayzie also manages to convince Gertrude, Horton’s neighbor with a humble lone-feathered tail, to see a doctor who can make her more like “amazing Mayzie.”
When the Sour Kangaroo gets Horton sent to trial for his seeming insanity - an elephant sitting on an egg, talking to a clover - his neighbor Gertrude, Leyken Cole, is the only character to come to his rescue.
Single-handedly, and with her lone feather, Gertrude manages to rescue Horton’s clover and musters enough courage to profess her deep like for Horton.
Together they share several touching duets, and ultimately – spoiler alert – agree to raise the winged elephant that hatches from Mayzie’s nest.
In the Whos’ world, it is Jojo, the tiny, young Who with the larger-than-life imagination who proves a hero. She is able to save her world and Horton’s reputation by letting out a yelp loud enough for all the Seuss world to hear, causing even the cranky kangaroo to believe Horton. She then promises to help protect the Whos, and joins in the reprise of “a person’s a person, no matter how small.”
Jojo is revered as the Whos’ designated thinker, and Horton, Gertrude and their adopted baby elephant-bird, along with the entire Seuss crew, seem destined for a happy ending.
To see photos of "Seussical" visit the online gallery here
Cast members, many of whom portrayed multiple roles, were: The Cat in the Hat – Schelbi Cantu; Gertrude – Leyken Cole; Horton – Alex Bourque; Sour Kangaroo – Katie Carl; Jojo – Sirena-Raye Bingman and C.C. Largent; Mayzie La Bird – Jessie Fike; The Grinch – Tyler Kendrick; Mayor – Scotty Harris; Mrs. Mayor – Lindsay Meyers; Judge Yurtle – Cole Rogers; Vlad Vladikoff – Nicholas Cantey.
Older Bird Girls – Jo Marble, Rebecca Wade, Lindsey Zuelly, Kristen Young, Taylor Pierce, Sydney Durkles and Keylee McCreight.
Young Bird Girls – Kaeleigh Goerlich, Natalie Marble, Sarah Mukueyi, Stephanie Off, Jessie Petty and Kaelah Marvin.
Hunters and Thing 1 and Thing 2 – Perry Mills and Taylor Mills.
Who Family 1 – Karen Canty, Cheyanne Tessuri, Samantha Alvarado, Tacy Boyce; Who Family 2 – Ladonna Bingman, Katherine Granados, Madison Bryant, Brittany Hunt; Who Family 3 – Angela Shaeffer, Haley Morrison, Mariah Perdue, Haven Perdue; Who Family 4 – Erin Denny, Kenzie Morrison, Mariah Sanchez, Delani Landers; Who Family 5 – Boston White, Lexus Ratcliff, Abigail Marble and Hope Richey.
Jungle Citizens – Becca Sanford, Madison Gutierrez, Cheyenne Fanis, Coralyn Kai Bingman, Trina Kearns, Braunwyn Larson, Malarie Fry, Sierra Comstock, Delany Reed, Sarah Ballenger, Faith Lumsden, Ashley Jenkins, Haley Jacobs, Chassidy Burgland, Shen Jackson, Kimberly Torres, Miranda Estrada and Elyssa Albough.
Wickersham Brothers – Anthony Contreras, Dyllan Richey, Zach Dearing, David Adkins, Perry Mills, Taylor Mills, Kobey Campbell, Richard Osburn, Trent Raylond and Colton Taylor.
Photos by Jennifer Fike
Perry Mills, Alex Bourque, Schelbi Cantu and Taylor Mills show off their Seuss-inspired duds during a dress rehearsal.
C.C. Largent, Becca Sanford, Scotty Harris, and Sirena-Raye Bingman embrace in a group hug before Thursday’s performance.
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