OLD FORT - Featuring characters from more than a dozen Dr. Seuss books, "Seussical the Musical" is to appear at Old Fort High School this weekend. Horton the Elephant, the Cat in the Hat, the Grinch, the Whos and other assorted creatures are to come to life at 8 p.m. Friday and Saturday and 3 p.m. Sunday in the school auditorium.
A central character is Horton, a kindly pachyderm who has been talked into egg-sitting for Mayzie LaBird while she flits around to various adventures. Isaiah Galvan and Hannah Gippert are cast as Horton and Mayzie. She surrounds herself with the Bird Girls Morgan Kemenah, Hali Kimmet, Krista Ward and Makayla Wilkinson.
Horton gets an abundance of advice and criticism from his neighbors, who seem to ignore Mayzie's irresponsible behavior. While Horton is on duty, his sensitive ears detect a faint cry that seems to be floating in the air. It is the voice of a young boy who lives in Whoville, a planet on a speck of dust that really is airborne. Unable to defend themselves or to alert anyone to their plight, the Whos are in danger. They tell Horton: "Our future is in your hands."
Horton decides to guide the speck to the petals of a clover and protect it, singing "A person's a person, no matter how small." His efforts generate much teasing and cynicism from those who do not believe the Whos exist. Rebekah Gippert as Sour Kangaroo loudly ridicules Horton at every opportunity. The Wickersham Brothers (Austin Castro, Marc Harris, Jeffrey Koebel and Jonathan Miller) even kidnap the clover to harass Horton.
The only one who believes Horton is the unobtrusive bird Gertrude, portrayed by Miranda McIntyre.
The cast of the show is divided between full-size jungle and circus creatures and the tiny residents of Whoville. The audience must imagine the characters' true size - but that is part of the story's message.
Jumping between the two dimensions is the Cat in the Hat, played by Mikenna Clinton. A three-wheeled cycle gives her a quick way to enter and exit as she sings and narrates the action.
The main Whos are Dalton Anstead as Jo Jo and Maison Steyer and Amanda Davidson as the mayor of Whoville and his wife, who also are Jo Jo's parents. The couple pleads with the imaginative Jo Jo to be more like normal children and stop thinking so much.
During "Anything's Possible," Black-light fish swim in Jo Jo's mind as the bathtub runs over.
The parents send Jo Jo off to General Schmitz's military academy, where the students are steeped in discipline and routine. Amanda Davidson plays Schmitz. No daydreaming is allowed, but Jo Jo continues to communicate with Horton.
As they become acquainted, the pair learns they have much in common. Despite their difference in size, both are dreamers who believe in things that may not be visible or obvious. The unlikely friends are successful in bringing the story to a happy ending.
In addition to those previously named, Amy Hartman is Yertle the Turtle; Lea Wilczynski appears as Cindy Lou Who; Isiah Mowery is the Grinch; and Haleigh Streacker is a featured dancer.
The chorus includes Angela Balliett, Hope Gippert, Jozie Hickman, Zella Stull and Tiffany Trumbo, Lynette Kelbley, Alina Hart, Sydney Hossler, Heather Kirchner, Jennifer Kirchner, Gretta Kissell, Chelesy Kohlenberg, Morgan Wilkinson and Bethany Winger. The chorus does plenty of singing and dancing in whimsical costumes.
Choreography is by Cassandra Cardenas. Diane Lopez is the keyboard accompanist, with a small pit band of flute, horn and percussion. Non-stop music in multiple styles keeps the action flowing.
Directing the musicians and actors is Amy DeRodes. Student directors are Kelly Miller and Jacob Vandergriff.
Tickets for "Seussical" are $8 for adults and $6 for students and seniors. They can be purchased at the door.