Bartlett Express Editor
After 16 years, the curtain is finally going up on a musical production at Bartlett High School.
“It’s been a very long time,” said Kevin Rogers, director of theater and forensics at the school for two years. “Let’s just say we’re under new management. I’ve always liked musicals. We just had to get the resources to do them.”
“Seussical the Musical” will take place at 7 p.m. Thursday through Saturday at Bartlett High School. Tickets for the hour-and-15-minute show are $10 and are available at the door.
The musical, written by Tony winners Lynn Ahrens and Stephen Flaherty, brings to life Dr. Seuss characters Horton the Elephant, Gertrude McFuzz, the Cat in the Hat, Mayzie La Bird, Sour Kangaroo and the Whoville mayor’s family.
Theodor Seuss Geisel, known as Dr. Seuss, wrote and illustrated 44 children’s books, including “Green Eggs and Ham” and “How the Grinch Stole Christmas.” The musical takes snippets from various Seuss books and weaves them into a fantastical, somewhat-confusing tale.
The story centers around Horton the Elephant, who hears a strange noise coming from a speck of dust and rescues it, placing it on a clover to guard it. The other animals mock him, except for Gertrude McFuzz, a bird who admires his compassion and falls in love with him.
Horton meets the tiny inhabitants of Whoville, including The Mayor, his wife and Jojo, their son, who live on his clover. Horton is ambushed by a group of mischievous monkeys, who steal the clover and give it to an eagle, who drops it into a large patch of clovers. Horton begins the hunt for his friends.
But lazy Mayzie La Bird interrupts the search, begging Horton to sit on her egg while she takes the afternoon off. Horton agrees, but Mayzie, who goes to Palm Beach, never returns to claim it.
Horton is captured by hunters and auctioned off to the circus. Gertrude McFuzz tries to free him, but her big tail feathers, which she had grown in a failed attempt to attract Horton’s attention, weigh her down. She gets them plucked and flies across the world to rescue Horton and find his clover.
Horton is captured again, and after a trial for the crimes of “talking to a speck of dust and loitering on an egg,” he is acquitted when the inhabitants of Whoville scream loud enough to be heard by the court. Horton’s egg hatches, and he and Gertrude decide to raise the Elephant-Bird together.
“This is a very energetic show,” admits Rogers, 26. “But I’ve always enjoyed Dr. Seuss, so I couldn’t pass it up. I’m not sure what the community will think, but I’m trying to get the word out. I believe Bartlett needs this. We just have to find out what people want and show them it’s here.”
The musical stars senior Cody Arthur as Horton, sophomore Cassie Kutz as Gertrude, sophomore Matthew Meyers as the Cat in the Hat, sophomore Emma Margavio as Mayzie, sophomore Shea McCollough as Mr. Mayor, sophomore Rowan Shelby as Mrs. Mayor and sixth-grader Rachel Atkins as Jojo.
Shelby said she is having the time of her life performing as Mrs. Mayor and is glad Rogers resurrected musicals at the school. Shelby said students were at a disadvantage in the school system with the lack of production.
“I’m so excited, and it makes me shake to think of opening night,” said Shelby. “Arlington and Bolton high schools do musicals all the time, and it has put us low on the totem pole because we haven’t done a musical here. We are about to get some serious street credibility.”
Cody Arthur, who plays Horton, said he sang in musicals at Elmore Park Middle School but hasn’t done anything at the high school level until “Seussical the Musical” came along. Arthur played the part of Horton when the middle school performed the same musical.
“This is awesome and the talent here is pretty cool,” said Arthur. “Mr. Rogers is passionate and has a younger view as a teacher. I was surprised he was doing a musical because this is only his second year here, but I knew I wanted to be a part of it when I heard about it.”