After all, it’s a kid’s play, right? Based on Dr. Seuss. He wrote books like The Cat in the Hat and The Cat in the Hat Comes Back — silly books for kids.
But then again, I love rhyming. And some of my students were in that play. That is why I went — to see them. But aside from wanting to see my students perform, I wasn’t interested in seeing a play for children.
Boy, was I wrong.
For one thing, the songs were wonderful. All this week, I have found myself humming “It’s possible. ... Anything’s possible” and “Oh, the things you can think” and, most of all, “Tell yourself, how lucky you are…”
That last song is about how, no matter how bad things are, you have to look on the good side. There’s always a good side to everything.
The messages of that play appealed to me, and are applicable to any adult — maybe even more so for adults. “Alone in the universe” is about how it feels when you are different from everyone else, and how tough that is, and how Horton the Elephant and JoJo did not change just to conform and be accepted.
There was more support for non-conformity when the intelligent, imaginative JoJo was sent by her parents to General Ghengis Kahl Schmitz’ school which was supposed to make her fall into line with the others. ... But she left instead of changing to fit in.
And Horton the Elephant’s message was about faith and loyalty and keeping one’s promises — keeping true to his word, sitting on Mayzie’s nest because he promised he would, through rain and snow and ridicule, never giving up. It’s a message we all need to hear.
I know the words most obviously ring true for little kids in the song “A person’s a person no matter how small,” but I keep singing this one in my head, too — not just because I am a short person, but because I hold that belief as a core value as a teacher and a human being, that everyone — no matter their ethnicity, religion, country of origin, age, no matter how difficult they are to deal with in my classroom or elsewhere in my life — they are all worthy of listening to, of respect.
Wow — I have wandered far from thinking Seussical is a play for children. Its lyrics spoke right to my adult heart.
I haven’t even started to rave about the costumes — so colorful, so bright. And the choreography — so much beautiful dancing, so synchronized. And the acrobatics. And the pit orchestra. And the singing, and the acting. And the lighting, and the sound, and the scenery.
It all melded together into an enjoyable experience for me, and, I think without exaggerating, for the entire audience.
I tend to write this column — a similar one, anyway — every year after I’ve been to a musical at the high school, but this one is different because I didn’t expect to get so much out of it. I left the theater with my spirits uplifted and renewed, even on that cold Saturday night, and I’m still singing.
Of course, the biggest thing was that I was thrilled to see my students on the stage, singing and dancing and acting their young hearts out. I hope they will carry the message of tolerance and faith and perseverance and non-conformity with them, long after they leave Norwalk High School.
Thank you, Dr. Seuss, director Robyn Rogers, and everyone who was part of making that magic happen on the Ernstausen stage last weekend.
Debbie Leffler is a free-lance wrier who lives in Norwalk. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.