Like Dr. Seuss himself, "Seussical," the two-act play that stars dozens of characters from some his most famous books, is short on dialogue, heavy on the lyricism.
The play is 90 percent song and features many of the familiar roles from "Horton Hears a Who!," "Green Eggs and Ham," "Yertle the Turtle," "The Lorax," "The Cat in the Hat," and more. The story follows Horton the Elephant and his attempt to save the minuscule city of Whoville - so tiny it fits on a speck of dust that he carries around on a clover.
Northern Light Junior Theatre, a nonprofit theater company of mostly third-through-10th-graders, presents the play at 7 p.m. Friday and Saturday, Jan. 20-21, at the Juneau-Douglas High School auditorium.
"There's a lot of small messages hinted at in the play, and each main character kind of has their own moral that they show," said Maya Rieselbach (Horton), a seventh-grader at Dzantik'i Heeni. "The main moral is not to judge people by how they look. Get to know them better and don't judge them from the outside."
northern light junior theatre
where: juneau-douglas high school auditorium.
when: 7 p.m. friday and saturday, jan. 20-21.
admission: advance tickets are $12 for adults, $8 for students and seniors citizens and available at hearthside books. at the door, they're $14 for adults, $10 for students and seniors.
"I think it's saying that you should respect people no matter what they look like or how small they are," said Taylor Vidic (The Cat in the Hat), a sixth-grader at Floyd Dryden.
Written by Lynn Ahrens and Stephen Flaherty, "Seussical" debuted on Broadway on Nov. 30, 2000. At one point, Rosie O' Donnell starred as the Cat in the Hat. The play lasted just six months but has found a second life in regional theater. Ahrens and Flaherty are the same creative team that wrote "Once Upon This Island," presented last year by the JDHS drama department.
Co-director J. Althea saw the play performed by a community theater in California. Janice Hurley directs with her.
"I had heard of it, and I'd heard how great it is," Althea said. "There's some buzz around the country because it was recently made available for licensing sometime in 2005."
This is the first time that Northern Light Junior Theatre has held a play at the high school. In the past, the group was sponsored by Northern Light United Church. Now, it's a stand-alone nonprofit with one corporate sponsor, Royal Caribbean Cruises.
"We hope we can get the high school again next year at a time when we can use it," Althea said. "It's always a challenge for all the groups in town to figure out what will work for their schedule. This is the best place to perform in town."
Shelly Wright designed the costumes for a cast that includes 32 kids and 11 adults.
The story is set in the Jungle of Nool, where most of the creatures mock Horton for carrying around a "speck of dust." The Cat in the Hat plays the narrator, jumping in and out of the action at random moments.
"It's a really fun play, but there are some serious parts too," Rieselbach said. "Horton gets teased a lot. I picture the animals like kids at a school. There are the bullies, there are the popular kids and the pretty girls. And then there's the loner, the one who gets bullied."
Mary Erickson, a sophomore at JDHS, plays Gertrude McFuzz, the plain-Jane bird from "The One Feather Tail of Miss Gertrude McFuzz." Gertrude is smitten with Horton and helps him throughout the play.
Erickson saw the play performed in Las Vegas, her former home. She moved to Juneau last year.
"(Gertrude) is the plan girl off in the corner," Erickson said. "She's shy. She gets made fun of. She doesn't even get noticed."