The feathers are flying and the feet are fleet on stage at Immaculate Heart Central High School these days.
IHC Junior/Senior High School speech and dramatic arts teacher Michele M. Davison is directing “Seussical the Musical Jr.” for the high school’s spring production, which will be staged Friday and Saturday.
She called it a “fun, colorful celebration of imagination” that brings to life characters created by Dr. Seuss — Theodor Seuss Geisel (1904-91).
“The show is pretty much a musical mashup of Dr. Seuss’s different stories,” said senior Sarah V. McIntosh, who plays the Cat in the Hat in “Seussical” and who narrates the show. “It mostly follows the story of Horton the elephant and Gertrude McFuzz.”
Gertrude, played by 10th-grader Kelly E. Wise, is one of several bird characters in the musical.
“We have a whole group of bird girls, and various fine-feathered friends,” Mrs. Davison said.
In addition to bird characters, other familiar Dr. Seuss characters come to life on stage, including Horton the Elephant, the Sour Kangaroo and Yertle the Turtle.
“Seussical” features music and lyrics by the Tony-winning team of Lynn Ahrens and Stephen Flaherty, who also wrote music and lyrics for “Ragtime” and “Once on This Island.” The show ran for six months on Broadway beginning in 2000 for a total of 198 performances.
The play, which features students in grades five through 12, opens with a red-and-white striped top hat on an empty stage. JoJo, played by 10th-grader Sarah Monnat, enters the stage and is attracted to the hat.
“I’m the thinker,” Miss Monnat said of her character. “I think too much, which gets me in trouble.”
Then the Cat in the Hat enters the scene and “takes JoJo on a bunch of adventures through Dr. Seuss’s stories,” said Miss McIntosh.
Gertrude McFuzz, the bird with the one-feather tail played by Miss Wise, is one of the characters introduced.
“Dr. Seuss was one of my favorite writers as a child,” she said. “I enjoyed his ability to create new worlds on a piece of paper.”
Junior Aynsley L. Upton plays Mayzie La Bird, who has an entourage of “Bird Girls.”
“Mayzie is a bright and eccentric character,” Miss Upton said. “She does like (the) boys a lot. She likes herself a lot as well and has a big, colorful tail. She takes a lot of pride in it but it isn’t natural.”
Miss Wise described Gertrude as “kind of the nerd bird of the show.”
“She has a huge crush on Horton,” Miss Wise said. “He won’t notice her. But she’ll do anything to make him notice her, including taking pills to make her tail grow.”
There’s a wide variety of music in the show, said Miss McIntosh, the Cat in the Hat narrator. “There’s some jazzy numbers, some that sound more gospel and some that are ballads.”
“The music is whimsical,” said Miss Monnat.
Miss Wise, who has taken dance lessons since kindergarten and dances with Northern Lights Dance Co., is instructing fellow students in the show’s choreography. She is assisted by Miss Upton, who also has dance experience.
Miss Davison said that such talent and resources have been key to making IHC musicals a success over the years. She added that parents have assisted with costumes and sets and the school’s art department created animal masks for several characters.
“We get everybody into the act,” Mrs. Davison said.
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The cast of “Seussical the Musical Jr.” at Immaculate Heart Central High School:
Sarah McIntosh is the Cat in the Hat, Sarah Monnat is JoJo, Kelly Wise is Gertrude McFuzz, James Hough is Horton, Michael Laverty is Mr. Mayor, Megan Welch is Mrs. Mayor, Jasmeet Aujla is the Sour Kangaroo and Aynsley Upton is Mayzie.
Marialena Mouiakel, Ani Hocutt and Graceanne Minnick are bird girls one through three, respectively.
Evan Munger, Tyler Luffman, Garrison Cuzzocrea and Kevin Schaeffer are the Wickersham brothers.
Erin Fikes is Yertle the Turtle and Armeet Aujla is Little Kangaroo.
In the ensemble, which includes fish, jungle animals, circus animals and citizens of Whoville, are Shelby-Lynn Farman, Morgan Gilbert, Alicia Bishop, Kesley Short, Marcella DiMonda and Mia Mouaikel.