Pelham Examiner

Pelham Examiner

Pelham Examiner

Cats with hats, empathetic elephants and colorful birds: Pelham Middle School’s ‘Seussical Jr.’

The Pelham Middle School Drama Club performed the classic Dr. Seuss storybook tales in a heartwarming, yet eccentric and amusing fashion in “Seussical Jr.” on the weekend of Jan. 26

“My absolute favorite part of the production process was the storytelling,” said co-director Tom Beck. “Discovering how these kids knew Dr. Seuss, from the books, and how they made those characters come to life and interact on stage with music.”

Beck’s co-director was fellow teacher teacher Neil Schleifer. The music was directed by George Croom, and choreography was by Jesse Pellegrino.

The first scene starts with a little boy named JoJo (Daniel Agbenyega) who lives in the neglected land of Whoville. As he aimlessly wanders around town, he is intruded on by the hilarious Cat in the Hat (Charlie McKee), who encourages the child to think deeper about who he is and his purpose in life. However, his parents, Mr and Mrs. Mayor (Conor Ginsburg and Lucy Ring), warn JoJo of the consequences of delving into his imagination. The Cat in the Hat keeps returning to visit to the little boy, as the other Whos of Whoville depend on him to save the town. 

“Many of the kids came into their own as far as having confidence,” said Beck. “In theater, it is wonderful for the students to be able to put on a mask and play somebody else, with the idea of wanting to transport the audience out of Pelham Middle School into the world of Dr. Seuss.”

Jay Kurland, who portrayed the famous character Horton the Elephant, immersed himself in the world of Horton. The sensitive elephant is the only animal in the Jungle of Nool that can hear the cry of the Whos, or more specifically, of JoJo. The song “Biggest Blame Fool” mocks Horton’s theories about Whoville and caught the attention of the audience with big, flashy dance moves. The leader of the jungle, Sour Kangaroo (Maddie Maguire), used her booming vocals to tell Horton that he is a fool.

Sixth grader Max Motta, playing a Wickersham brother, said he enjoyed performing “Biggest Blame Fool” because everyone was so devoted to the story, thus allowing the audience to fall in love with the characters. 

“The kids learned how to be storytellers,” said Beck. “The kids were all so excited because so many of them were familiar with the music/stories. They were thrilled to have the chance to perform this, and everybody took that and came to rehearsals ready to have a good time.”

Gertrude McFuzz (Alice Kiamie) is the smallest bird in the jungle but with the biggest personality. Her single teal-blue feather is overlooked by Horton, who is loving, but often oblivious and naive to the world around him. To earn Horton’s love, Gertrude does everything she can to grow the biggest tail. But she learns she must accept herself for who she is, and when Horton does recognize her, it’s because of her shining personality.

“I loved everything about this musical because ‘Seussical’ is such a fun and iconic play to be a part of, plus the acting!” said ensemble cast member Lily Etzel.

Nellie Hill-Ries, playing a Who, said her favorite part of the musical was “being in the numbers, the dances and watching everyone perform!”


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About the Contributor
Scarlett Hanlon, Entertainment Editor
Hi everyone! My name is Scarlett Hanlon, and I’m a staff reporter for the Pelham Examiner! I sing in the PMHS chamber chorus, AcaPelicans, and I’m part of the upcoming spring musical! I’m an active participant of breast cancer awareness club and women’s empowerment! I’m excited to write for the Examiner!

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