Peebles hears a Who


May 13, 2014

Is it showing in a box? Will it be showing on Fox? Is it showing in the sky? No, it’s showing at Peebles High.

“Seussical the Musical,” the colorful play based on the writings of Dr. Seuss, is coming to Peebles High School this weekend. Showtimes and dates are 7 p.m. Friday and Saturday, May 16 and 17, and 3 p.m. Sunday, May 18.

Director Brian Meyer has had 20 years of experience teaching performing arts to students. This is his third play at Peebles, after working at West Union High School for the past 17 years. His first year at Peebles saw “Big Bad Musical,” and they performed “The Pirates of Penzance” last year. The first play had 22 students involved, and “Pirates” had 32 students. Meyer is going all out with a total of 50 students involved in the production of “Seussical.”

“You’re always looking for plays that fit the students you have to work with.” Meyer said. “This year we had the right mix of students for ‘Seussical,’ especially with the elementary students we’ve brought in.”

Elementary students from the sixth, seventh, and eighth grades and even younger have roles in this play. In fact, one of the lead roles, Jojo, is played by seventh grader Michael Rader. Meyer is hoping to get students interested in the performing arts at a younger age, and by the time they are in high school they will already have some experience under their belts.

The use of younger students ties into one of the central themes of the play - a person is a person no matter how small - and the elementary students play mostly the tiny Whos who live in Whoville.

Meyer has had the assistance of Jacob Fletcher, a junior, in painting the sets; though, Meyer notes that the play leans towards “less is more” with the focus being on the language rather than on fancy props and sets. Almost the entire play rhymes, and the play is operatic in nature with almost every word of the play conveyed through song in its 41 musical numbers. Meyer recorded each number himself prior to the performance.

Meyer thanked everyone who helped with putting the performance together, stating he had a massive outpouring of parent support in this project. At the dress rehearsal numerous parents were on hand to help and even provided a meal for the cast. During the performances, concession will be provided by the Peebles Athletic Boosters.

Of course, a play wouldn’t even be possible without its cast. Jojo, mentioned previously, thinks up the Cat in the Hat played by Mary Fernandez who helps Jojo explore the other major theme of the play - that thinking is a good thing. With the Cat’s mischievous help, Jojo imagines a jungle inhabited by the loyal elephant Horton played by Jacob Stone; Gertrude McFuzz, the bird who wants Horton to notice her, played by Katy Hillger; Mayzie La Bird, a flamboyant party girl bird, played by Allison Blair; and Sour Kangaroo, who thinks Horton has gone crazy, played by Stephany Whitley.

By chance, Horton discovers the tiny town of Whoville on a clover, and starts speaking with the Mayor of Whoville played by Trea Ewing, and his wife, Mrs. Mayor, played by Shanien Swango, So. In turn, Jojo gets thrust into Whoville by the Cat, making Jojo the son of the Mayor and Mrs. Mayor.

“Seussical” weaves three separate plots with Jojo and the Whos, Horton and his troubles, and Gertrude McFuzz trying to attract Horton’s attention. While the three plots have only little connection to one another, the plots all tie together as things come to a head when Sour Kangaroo tries to have Horton locked up for being crazy and the clover destroyed.

Parents will enjoy the colorful, silly world conjured by the cast and even have a chance at participating in the play, so hop on pop, if he is being a Grinch, and come with one fish or two fish, a red fish or blue fish to see “Seussical the Musical” at Peebles High School. Tickets are on sale now at the school with assigned seating.

Paul Hannah can be reached at (937) 544-2391.