Tuesday, May 01, 2007

A Seussical Musical Study

As many of you know, our family enjoys participating in a children's theater group (see that label in my sidebar for pictures and posts from past productions!). It's been a great complement to our homeschooling, incorporating public speaking, acting, singing, dancing, memorization, selling tickets, and helping with publicity (being interviewed on the radio was a great experience!). The dancing is serious PE too; the kids are always red-faced, sweating and complaining of sore muscles after a strenuous practice! It's also been a social environment where ages 8-18 are included and whole families participate.

And dress rehearsals for our current production, Seussical, the Musical, are NEXT WEEK!!! It has been such a fun show for our kids to work on--partly because the music is so much fun to listen to and sing.

So I just have to suggest to my readers that you check your local library, or put in an interlibrary loan request, for the CD. Seussical is one of those musicals with very little spoken dialogue--it's almost all singing--so you can get the whole story, really, by listening to the music. (As far as I know, there is no major video production, but try requesting it; our library was able to obtain one from a local community theater.)

For my Carnival of Homeschooling readers, I'd like to suggest a unit study: Listen to the music, and read the Seuss books that go along with it! Horton Hears a Who provides the basic plot structure, with subplots from the story of Gertrude McFuzz (from Yertle the Turtle & Other Stories) and Horton Hatches the Egg. (You could also read Oh, the Thinks You Can Think, The Cat in the Hat, McEligot's Pool and others--see here for a complete list of Seuss books that are referenced in the musical.) By listening to the music, your kids will easily memorize some pretty good poetry, including the recurring refrain, "A person's a person, no matter how small." Whether Dr. Seuss intended it as a pro-life message or not, Horton's protection of the helpless Whos, who have no voice, is compassionate and touching.

You could also study the variety of musical styles found in Seussical--they range from Latin, pop, and swing to gospel, R&B, and the Beach Boys! The music is so dynamic, with lots of close harmonies, and the big numbers are really high-energy. I wish I could play you the music, but I think you can get a sense of it from the rhythm and rhyme of the following lyrics, one of our kids' favorite numbers. (My 14 yr old daughter is one of the Bird Girls who function as singing narrators--a modern Greek chorus--throughout the show, and our 12 year old son is one of the Wickersham Brothers.)

Biggest Blame Fool

Sour Kangaroo (big, slow gospel-type solo):
Humpf!...... Humpfed a voice.
'Twas the soooouuur kangaroo-oo.
And the young kangaroo in her pouch said...

Young Kangaroo:
"Humpf!"

Sour Kangaroo:
Tooooooo!
(Spoken) Why, that speck is as small as the head of a pin.
A person on that? Why, there never HAS been!

(picking up tempo, getting more blues-y) You're the biggest blame fool
In the Jungle of Nool
And I don't care who I tell
The biggest blame fool
In the Jungle of Nool,

Young Kangaroo:
And I think so as well!

Sour Kangaroo:
Maybe I'm nasty, maybe I'm cruel
But you're the biggest blame fool

Young Kangaroo:
In the Jungle of Nool

Horton the Elephant (spoken):
It's true. Please believe me. I tell you sincerely,
My ears are quite keen and I heard him quite clearly.
I know there's a person down there, and what's more,
Quite likely there's two, even three, even four!

Wickersham #2:
Ha! Laughed a voice!

Wickersham #1 & 3
Ha! Laughed some others!

Wickershams:
Ha! Ha Ha!
Laughed the Wickersham brothers!

Oh, he's the biggest blame fool
In the Jungle of Nool
And monkeys like us should know.

Sour Kangaroo:
No, no, no, no!

Wickershams:
We've been out on a limb
Lookin' down on him--

Wickersham #1:
And he's fat!

Wickersham #2:
He's dumb!

Wichersham #3:
He's slow!

Sour Kangaroo:
Uh huh!

Sour Kangaroo & Wickershams:
Elephants ain't too swift as a rule
But he's the biggest blame fool
In the Jungle of Nool.
'Cause he's talkin' to a speck
Talkin' to a speck
To a speck of dust

Wickersham #3 (a deep bass):
Blame fool in the Jungle of Nool

Wickershams, Bird Girls & Sour Kangaroo:
Talkin' to a speck
Talkin' to a speck
To a speck of dust

Wickersham #3 (deep bass):
Blame fool in the Jungle of Nool

Sour Kangaroo:
R-E-S-P-E-C-K!
Oh, please take that speck away!

All:
Did you hear? Did you hear?
Did you, did you hear?

Bird Girls (spoken, in unison):
Through the Jungle, the news quickly spread.

All:
Did you hear? Did you hear?
Did you, did you hear?

Bird Girls (spoken in unison):
He talks to a dust speck! He's out of his head!

Cat in the Hat (spoken, like a talk show host):
Our topic today is "Psychic elephants who hear
voices." Whaddaya think, folks, is the elephant
off his trunk? We'll be right back with "speck"
"clover" "dust" "neighbor" "who"....
Stay tuned! We'll be right back!

All:
Biggest blame fool
In the Jungle of Nool

Gertrude (a nerdy bird/girl--being "interviewed" by the Cat):
I'm Gertrude McFuzz and I live right next door.
He's never done anything crazy before.

All:
Biggest blame fool
In the Jungle of Nool

Gertrude:
He's always been friendly, and loyal, and kind.
I just don't believe Horton's out of his mind!

All:
Did you hear? Did you hear?
Did you, did you hear?

Mayzie (a show girl/bird, being "interviewed"):
I'm Mayzie La Bird and I live in that tree.

All:
Did you hear? Did you hear?
Did you, did you hear?

Mayzie:
Enough about Horton, let's talk about me!

Mayzie and Bird Girls (climbing higher in pitch):
Let's talk about, talk about
talk about, talk about....

Mayzie:
Me!

All (except Horton & Gertrude)
Talkin' to a speck
Talkin' to a speck
To a speck of dust

Wickersham #3: Sour Kangaroo:
Blame fool in the
Jungle of Nool

Horton (lyrically, slower tempo):
I just have to save them, because after all
A person's a person no matter how small.

Horton & Gertrude:
A person's a person no matter how...

All (except Horton & Gertrude)
Biggest blame fool
In the Jungle of Nool
In the jungle, anywhere.
Check out the big nervous wreck
Who's protectin' a speck
When he knows there's no one there!

Wickershams #1, 2, & 3
Actin' as if he's holdin' a jewel

Sour Kangaroo:
Sonebody stuck a trunk on a mule!

Biggest blame fool
In the jungle of

All:
Nool, Nool, Nool!
In the Jungle of Nool, Nool, Nool!
In the Jungle of Nool, Nool, Nool!

3 comments:

Erin said...

Fun! I'll see if my library has the CD. Can't wait to see pictures!

Nikki said...

What a wonderful way to spend time with your family. My oldest daught has always been involoved in drama. She just was in a musical Josephs Amazing Technicolor Coat. Than last night the club called and told us they had free tickets for us to see the musical in the City. It was so amazing and wonderful. My daughter is 14 and when it was over she did one of those Home alone hands on cheek looks. We have also watched the phantom of the opera, cats, and Sound of music. Borders book stores have a lot of the musicals in with the Cds.

Nikki

hoesayfina said...

thanks for posting this. I intend on taking my first grader and preschooler to a traveling Broadway show here in Waco. I was looking for something to do prior to the event. Glad to come across your post. Our library didn't have it, but I am currently listening to the album on free.napster.com. If, i really like it I'll download it. At any rate i just wanted you to know i appreciate your post.