‘SEUSSICAL!’ dances onto David Douglas High’s stage

Take a look, and you’ll see why a musical, based on Dr. Seuss stories, might become your family’s new “favorite” stage show …

During dress rehearsal for SEUSSICAL! the show’s director, and David Douglas High School theater instructor, Michael Givler – and orchestra instructor and conductor Jennifer Muller – collaborate on musical cues.

Story and photos by David F. Ashton
On opening night, November 15, after the final curtain call of the new David Douglas High School (DDHS) Theater Department musical SEUSSICAL!, many in the audience had to take a moment to “catch their breaths” after experiencing the fast-paced, dazzling stage production that swirled across the Horner Performing Arts Theater stage.

“We all thought it was time for our theater department to do a fun show like this,” smiled DDHS Theater Instructor Michael Givler just before opening night.

The colorful characters of SEUSSICAL! are introduced in this opening number.

“It has universal appeal, because almost everyone has read and enjoyed Dr. Seuss stories. I think audiences will be delighted at how the composers have created a really interesting storyline based on several Dr. Seuss stories,” Givler told East Portland News.

SEUSSICAL! is written as an operetta, explained Givler. So, instead of actors saying lines, almost the entire story is told in songs. More than 40 student actors/dancers bring the story to life, accompanied by the David Douglas Orchestra. In total about 100 students have a role in bringing this big production to the stage.

Some people think he’s crazy, but Horton the Elephant (played by Ethan Archer) is sure he hears the Whos – a tiny world of people who live on the flower he holds.

The Mayor of Whoville (Brandon Montes) decides to send his imaginative child, Jojo (Madison Eager), off to military school, because all of his colorful “thinks”.

About the story
The storyline of SEUSSICAL! is a crazy-quilt “mash-up” of many of Dr. Seuss’s most famous books, with the main plot derived from Horton Hears a Who! The Cat in the Hat keeps the musical moving along by serving, at different times, as the narrator, a casual observer, and devil’s advocate.

“It’s like a crazy cake that the Cat in the Hat would whip up,” Givler said, “Because it also incorporates characters and glimpses from many, many of Seuss’s books. Just when you think the story will never resolve – it does so in a colorful way.”

Gertrude McFuzz (Shelby Hansmann) is glum because of her tiny plumage. So much so that Bird Girlfriends (Julie Harris, Shalina Baker, Sable Van Meter, Becca Daigle, Kailynn Brace, and Bella Green) can’t cheer her up.

Although he thinks it to be a very bad idea, Horton the Elephant listens to the proposal by lazy Mayzie LaBird (Amanda Schreiter) that he sit on her egg – for just a few minutes.

As the first act ends, the cast fills the stage, and sings to Horton who is stuck – for months – sitting on Mayze’s egg.

When you go to the show, check off the scenes you recognize from Dr. Seuss books:

Horton Hears a Who! ~ How the Grinch Stole Christmas!
The Lorax ~ Green Eggs and Ham
Yertle the Turtle and Other Stories
Horton Hatches the Egg ~ I Had Trouble in Getting to Solla Sollew
And to Think That I Saw It on Mulberry Street
McElligot’s Pool ~ Hunches in Bunches
If I Ran the Circus ~ The Butter Battle Book
Oh, the Thinks You Can Think!
The Cat in the Hat ~ The Sneetches and Other Stories
Did I Ever Tell You How Lucky You Are?
Oh, the Places You’ll Go! ~ One Fish Two Fish Red Fish Blue Fish


As the second act starts, the audience finds Horton, the nest, and tree, all taken away across the sea, and put on display in the amazing, world-beating, Circus McGurkus.

Gertrude McFuzz finally finds Horton, and openly expresses her devotion to him.

Thanks to the work of the Sour Kangaroo (Vanessa Peacock), Horton is put on trial. Will be end up being boiled in the pot – or will he be freed to save the citizens of Whoville?

Givler said the show proved its universal appeal by playing for nearly 200 performances on Broadway, starting in 2000. It went on to become a favorite presentation of children’s  theaters and other groups around the world.

“I’m sure everyone who comes will enjoy the energy, colorful scenery, and great production values,” Givler promised.

Based on the dress rehearsal at which these photos were taken, we agree! This fun show will delight the entire family.

The audience is treated to the curtain call – a song performed by the entire cast, set to Green Eggs and Ham.

The curtain goes up on SEUSSICAL! The Dr. Seuss Musical at 7:30 p.m. as their run continues on November 16, 22, and 23 at 7:30 p.m. And, take the kids to one of the two matinee shows – November 17 or 24, at 2:30 p.m.

Reserve your tickets now, online: CLICK HERE to open their special Ticket Reservation webpage. OR, stop by their Box Office, open Monday, Wednesday and Friday from 3:00 p.m. until 5:30 p.m. – OR call (503) 261-8270.

The Box Office and Theater are in the Horner Performing Arts Center, 1400 SE 130th Avenue, between SE Division and Stark Streets.

© 2013 David F. Ashton ~ East Portland News

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