Watson Chapel High School choir and drama students sang and danced their way through magical adventures and brought to life some of our favorite Dr. Seuss characters during their presentation of “Seussical Jr.,” held Thursday and Friday in the high school auditorium.
During this musical extravaganza, the students transformed into such characters as Horton the Elephant, Gertrude McFuzz, Mayzie and JoJo and took the audience on a journey from the Jungle of Nool to the invisible world of the Whos.
The story begins when Horton the Elephant, played by Josh Crater, hears a small cry for help. Horton realizes the sound is coming from a speck of dust and there are people living there — the tiny citizens of Whoville, “the tiniest planet in the sky.” Horton promises to help the Whos and places them on a soft clover.
Sour Kangaroo, played by Ashley Reed, arrives on scene and thinks Horton is crazy for talking to a speck of dust and she and the jungle citizens begin to make fun of Horton, calling him the “Biggest Blame Fool” in the Jungle of Nool. The one person who defends Horton is his neighbor, Gertrude, played by Ashley Owen, but not even Horton pays attention to her.
The Cat in the Hat, played by Jacqueline Barber, introduces JoJo, played by Britney Case, into the story. JoJo is the child of Mr. and Mrs. Mayor of Whoville, played by Jason Lochmann and Katheryn Clemmons. Mr. and Mrs. Mayor are upset with JoJo because JoJo’s “thinks” have caused trouble at school. They tell JoJo to take a bath and go to bed, but instead The Cat in the Hat causes JoJo’s imagination to run wild again and JoJo floods the house with bathwater.
Gertrude believes Horton is not interested in her because she has a small tail. Mayzie, played by Chenel Allen, offers Gertrude advice, which leads Gertrude to seek the help of a doctor for his pills. Gertrude takes too many pills, but is happy because her tail begins to grow.
The Wickershams, played by Ma’Ryah Martin, Casey Mounts and Carmalisha Davenport, “monkey around” and decide to steal the clover that is holding Whoville. They all jump on Horton and grab the clover from him. They give the clover to an eagle named, Vlad Vladikoff, played by Casey Hickman, who flies off with the clover and drops it into a field of clovers.
Horton, determined to find them, begins looking for the Whos, clover by clover. Gertrude arrives with her new, long tail to tell Horton how she truly feels. But Horton is so preoccupied with looking for the Whos, he doesn’t even notice Gertrude.
Mayzie calls to Horton from her nest in a tree and, because she is bored, she convinces Horton to sit on the nest for her while she takes a vacation. Horton sits on the egg while seasons pass and the Whos are still lost in the clover field. Hunters come onto the scene and capture Horton and the egg and take them to be auctioned off to the circus. The “Seusseby’s auctioneer” allows the audience to bid on Horton.
The circus arrives in Palm Beach, where Mayzie is found complaining about her vacation. She decides to go to the circus, where she sees Horton. Horton pleads with Mayzie to take back her egg but she refuses and leaves. So not only is Horton left with the responsibility of taking care of the egg, he is still worried about JoJo and the Whos.
Gertrude arrives at the circus after traveling great distances to find and rescue Horton. She also tells Horton that she found the clover containing the Whos and it is then that Horton finally realizes that Gertrude is “amazing”.
Just as Horton is reunited with the Whos, the Sour Kangaroo and the Wickershams show up again and make a citizens arrest. They take Horton back to the Jungle of Nool, where he is put on trial “for talking to a speck and sitting on an egg.” The trial begins and Judge Yertle the Turtle, played by Jamaal Courtney, sentences Horton to the Nool Asylum for the Criminally Insane. The speck of dust is ordered to be boiled in oil. Horton loudly protests, and informs the Whos they must yell to be heard, in order to prove they exist.
The Whos scream as loud as they can, but still only Horton can hear them. Suddenly, Jojo comes up with a “think” and shouts a new word that was heard by everyone. All the animals of Nool hear Jojo’s shout and Whoville is saved.
Horton’s egg begins to crack and out comes an Elephant Bird … Horton turns to Gertrude for help, realizing that she is his “one true friend in the universe.” In the end, Horton learns the power of true friendship and loyalty.
Sandy Owen, director of drama, said classwork for the production began Jan. 25 but rehearsals began about three weeks before the first show.
“We practiced from 6 a.m. to 8 a.m., five days a week for three weeks, and that takes special dedication. We found that at that time (of the day), no one has doctor’s appointments … everyone is free during those times,” she said.
Owen said the performers included the school’s “top choir and drama students.”
Owen said she and Angel Owen, music director, worked together to decide which production the students would perform this year.
“We like to choose something that will challenge the students and entertain the audience.” She said this year they decided on a production that would be “fun and appeal to children.”
With the exception of some animal costumes that were borrowed from the Arts & Science Center for Southeast Arkansas, Sandy Owen said all other costumes and props were constructed or donated by the teachers and students.
Other cast members included Olivia Peek, Nikki Holcomb, Diedre Mays, Brashea Aiken, Billetta McLeod, Elizabeth White, Devonte Russell and Bailey Garner.
The musical was choreographed by Tana Cook and Mary Clemmons was set director.