Tags Posts tagged with "Dr. Seuss"

Dr. Seuss

By Daniel Dunaief

Daniel Dunaief

Theodore Geisel, or Dr. Seuss as he was better known, was born 115 years ago earlier this month. He brought us so many wonderful characters, from Horton — my favorite — to Thing One and Thing Two to the Grinch to Sam-I-Am.

A wonderful part about having children is revisiting these friends from our own childhood. Certainly, babies born today have more options, but Seuss characters continue to inhabit their world almost as much as they did ours.

Before our daughter was born, we used to read “Oh, Baby, the Places You’ll Go!” to her. Tish Rabe adapted the book from the works of Seuss.

Almost 18 years later, I’m not sure how much, or if, the words we read to her and to our son a few years later, had any impact. It was fun, however, to picture them listening to our voices as we imagined the things they’d do and, of course, the places they’d go.

Written for, and about, children, this book doesn’t address the journeys we, the parents, the readers of this and so many other books, will take with and for our children. We travel in cars with them, where, initially, every journey is a voyage of discovery.

On those trips when parents can travel with their child together, one adult might drive while the other can sit with the rear-facing seat of our infant or toddler. We point out the world around us, enabling us to see the red-tailed hawks, oak trees and changing foliage through their eyes.

Even before we focus on the world outside the car, we travel through familiar songs, stories and nursery rhymes, creating patterns that we and our children can look forward to even if we are stuck in traffic somewhere.

As our children grow up, they travel with teams, bands or Model United Nations trips outside of the usual patterns of our lives.

Our daughter ventured to towns half a mile, half an hour, half a state and almost half a world away with softball and volleyball teams, bringing her uniform, enthusiasm and a readiness to join other girls who were, seemingly yesterday, also in the early stages of life.

With her band, she ventured out of the country, traveling to Italy, where she was delighted to play for an audience that didn’t understand much English, but shared reactions to the music that needed no translation.

As our children grow up, they travel more and more often without us, going on religious retreats, visiting national monuments and taking school trips to Washington, D.C., to see the capital of our democracy and many museums.

When they are on these trips, we are delighted that they are experiencing life, making new friends and discovering the world and their role in it on their own. When they travel far enough and for long enough, we sometimes pack a bag and visit them, eager to see them in a new setting and perhaps to explore the same part of Australia that always tickled our fancy.

As they prepare to graduate from high school and move into the great unknown of college classes, friends and parties — hopefully in that order — we share their excitement and anxiety.

At some point, we hope to see them come home again, so we can hear about their lives. We also plan to visit and see their college world as it unfolds. The wonderful part of the places our children go to is that they take us, literally or figuratively, with them. The title of this chapter of their lives could be, “Oh, the places you’ll take us.”

Daniel Dunaief

By Daniel Dunaief

What better day than today, March 14, to celebrate numbers? In case you haven’t heard, math teachers around the country have been getting in on the calendar action for 31 years, designating the day before Caesar’s dreaded Ides of March as pi day, because the first three numbers of this month and day — 3, 1, 4 — are the same as pi, the Greek letter that is a mathematical constant and makes calculations like the area and circumference of a circle possible.

We can become numb to numbers, but they are everywhere and help define and shape even the non-perfectly circular parts of our lives.

We have a social security number, a birth date, a birth order, height and weight, and a street address, with a latitude and longitude, if we’re especially numerically inclined.

Numbers save us, as computer codes using numbers keep planes from flying at the same altitude. Numbers tell us what to wear, as the temperature, especially around this time of year, dictates whether we take a sweatshirt, jacket or heavy coat.

We use them when we’re ordering food, paying for a meal in a restaurant and counting calories. They are a part of music as they dictate rhythms and tempos, and of history, allowing us to keep the order of events straight.

We use numbers to keep track of landmarks, like the year of our graduation from high school or college, the year we met or married our partners, or the years our children were born.

Numbers help us track the time of year. Even a warm day in February doesn’t make it July, just as a cold day in June doesn’t turn the calendar to November.

People complain regularly that they aren’t good at math or science, and yet they can calculate the time it takes to get to school to pick up their kids, get them home to do their homework, cook dinner and manage a budget, all of which requires an awareness of the numbers that populate our lives.

We know when to get up because of the numbers flashing on the phone or alarm clock near the side of our bed, which are unfortunately an hour, 60 minutes or 3,600 seconds ahead thanks to daylight savings time. Many of our numbers are in base 10, but not all, as our 24-hour clocks, 24-hour days, 12-month years and seven-day weeks celebrate other calculations.

Numbers start early in our lives, as parents share their children’s height and weight and, if they’re preparing themselves for a lifetime of monitoring their children’s achievements, their Apgar scores.

Children read Dr. Seuss’ “One Fish, Two Fish, Red Fish, Blue Fish.” We use numbers to connect the dots in a game, drawing lines that form an image of Dumbo or a giraffe.

Numbers progress through our elementary education — “I’m 10 and I’m in fifth grade” — and they follow us in all of our activities: “I got a 94 on my social studies test.”

Imagine life without numbers, just for 60 seconds or so. Would everything be relative? How would we track winners and losers in anything, from the biggest house to the best basketball team? Would we understand how warm or cold the day had become by developing a sliding scale system? Would we have enough ways to capture the difference between 58 degrees Fahrenheit and 71 degrees?

Objects that appear uncountable cause confusion or awe. Look in the sky and try to count the stars, or study a jar of M&Ms and try to calculate the number of candies.

A picture may be worth a thousand words, but a number tells its own tale — it was a six-alarm fire, I had 37 friends at my birthday party or I walked a mile in a circle, which means the diameter of that circle was about 1,680 feet — thanks to pi.

By Heidi Sutton

Theodor Seuss Geisel often said, “You have ‘em; I’ll amuse ‘em.” And for over 80 years the man who never had children of his own has been entertaining millions of boys and girls with his whimsical books filled with vivid illustrations and iconic characters like the Cat in the Hat and the Grinch.

‘The cast of ‘Seussical The Musical’ after last Saturday’s performance.

Now the genius that is Dr. Seuss is celebrated on the John W. Engeman’s stage in “Seussical The Musical.” With book, music and lyrics by Lynn Ahrens and Michael Flaherty, the show incorporates the stories from “Horton Hears a Who,” “Horton Hatches the Egg,” “If I Ran the Circus,” “Miss Gertrude McFuzz” and others into a fun, whimsical and colorful adventure the entire family will enjoy. The musical runs through March 3.

Let me just say that this show is so incredible I had to look around the theater several times to make sure I wasn’t watching it on Broadway. Directed and choreographed by Marquez Stewart, a cast of seasoned actors guide the audience in perfect rhyme on a high-energy musical journey from the Jungle of Nool to the Circus McGurkus to the invisible world of the Whos.

The Cat in the Hat (Jae Hughes), who  serves as narrator, introduces us to Horton the Elephant (Evan Schultz) who finds a speck of dust on a clover flower containing the town of Whoville. While he’s busy trying to help the littlest Who, Jojo (Makayla Connolly), the loyal pachyderm is tricked into sitting on Mayzie La Bird’s (Marielle Greguski) egg, is captured by hunters and sold to the circus. When he is finally rescued by Gertrude the girl-bird (Emily Brennan), he is put on trial by Sour Kangaroo (Suzanne Mason) for “sitting on an egg and talking to a speck.” Will he ever catch a break?

Stewart knows her target audience well and keeps them on the edge of their seats. The dance numbers are exciting with special props; actors walk, run and dance through the theater; and audience participation is encouraged as Horton and Mayzie’s egg are auctioned off to the highest bidder.

All of the songs are wonderful, from the fun intro “Oh, The Thinks You Can Think!” to the catchy “Horton Hears a Who” (where a person’s a person no matter how small),  the sweet “Notice Me Horton” and my favorite, “It’s Possible.” The finale “Green Eggs and Ham” ends the show on a high note. Costumes designed by Daniel Rodriguez and the cartoony sets look as if they’ve jumped right off the pages of “Horton Hears a Who.”

It has been said that Dr. Seuss’ books are special because they sing. “Seussical The Musical’s” current production at the Engeman brings that adage to the next level. Put this on your list of “not to be missed.”

Meet the cast in the lobby after the show for pictures and autographs. An autograph page is located toward the back of the program.

Check out this video from the show! 

The John W. Engeman Theater, 250 Main St., Northport will present “Seussical The Musical” through March 3.  Children’s Theater continues with “Madagascar: A Musical Adventure” from March 23 to April 28. All seats are $15. For more information, call 631-261-2900 or visit www.engemantheater.com.

Photos courtesy of the Engeman Theater

 

By Heidi Sutton

With quirky worlds and peculiar creatures, some familiar and some not, Dr. Seuss’ enchanting stories have entertained children and adults for generations. Now the Smithtown Center for the Performing Arts brings some of those most memorable tales to the theater’s stage with a Kids Performing for Kids production of “Seussical Jr.” The show opened on St. Patrick’s Day and runs through the end of April.

Kieran Brown as Jojo and Luke Ferrari as the Cat in the Hat in a scene from ‘Seussical Jr.’

With book, music and lyrics by Lynn Ahrens and Michael Flaherty, the show combines “Horton Hears a Who,” “Horton Hatches the Egg” and “Miss Gertrude McFuzz” with all their wonderful characters into a two-hour fantasmical musical adventure; in essence, creating the perfect respite on a chilly March afternoon.

Andrew Murano (“Shakespeare in Love”) directs an incredibly talented young cast of 23 actors, ranging from the age of 8 to 18, in bringing the magical world of Dr. Seuss to life in perfect rhyme, and oh, how magical it is!

From the moment the Cat in the Hat (Luke Ferrari) pops out of a trap door on the stage and belts out “Oh the Thinks You Can Think (When You Think About Seuss),” the show takes off and never loses momentum. Ferrari’s feline character serves as narrator and transports the audience from the Jungle of Nool with Horton the elephant and Gertrude the girl-bird, to the microscopic city of Who-ville with Jojo to, in the second act, the Circus McGurkus, with singing, dancing and uplifting messages.

While the entire cast does a great job, the main characters are simply outstanding. Michael Loccisano shines as Horton and his recurring solo, “Horton Hears a Who,” where a person’s a person no matter how small, is heartfelt. Kieran Brown is a natural as Jojo and his incredible talent is unveiled in “It’s Possible.” Other standouts include Brooke Miranda (Gertrude,) Lorelai Mucciolo (Sour Kangaroo) and Leah Kelly as Mayzie. Their futures as actors look promising indeed.

A nice touch is how the cast utilizes the aisles and even the balcony to convey the story. Designed by Ronald Green III, the costumes are lively and colorful and the set, constructed by Tim Golebiewski, look as if they’ve jumped right off the pages of one of Seuss’ books. The “Green Eggs and Ham” finale is just the cherry on top.

The Smithtown Center for the Performing Arts, 2 East Main St., Smithtown will present “Seussical Jr.” through April 29 with special Spring Break Days from April 2 to 6 at 1 p.m. Booster seats are available and there is a 15-minute intermission. Meet the Cat in the Hat, Horton, Gertrude and Jojo in the lobby for photos after the show. Children’s theater continues with “Willy Wonka Jr.” from May 19 to June 17 and “Mary Poppins Jr.” from Sept. 15 to Oct. 28. All seats are $15. To order, call 631-724-3700 or visit www.smithtownpac.org.

All photos by Danielle Nigro

Alyson Leonard, Antoine Jones and Marquez Stewart in a scene from 'The Cat in the Hat'

By Heidi Sutton

For generations, Theodor Seuss Geisel, better known as Dr. Seuss, has entertained and delighted children and adults alike with his whimsical tales and wild imagination. Out of the 60 children’s books published during his lifetime, one of Seuss’ most popular is “The Cat in the Hat.”

Written in 1957 as an early reader book, it has since been translated into more than 15 languages and was adapted into a feature-length film starring Michael Myers in 2003. And just last week, Warner Animation Group, in partnership with Dr. Seuss Enterprises announced that a fully animated version of the popular book is in the works, the first of many planned to keep the Dr. Seuss legacy alive.

In our neck of the woods, a theatrical adaptation of “The Cat in the Hat” by Katie Mitchell opened last weekend at the Engeman Theater in Northport. The adorable children’s musical will run through the first week of March. The script, which is guided with voice-overs by Steve Wangner in the wings, follows the book closely and provides for a fun afternoon of live theater.

It’s a rainy day and Sally (Danielle Aliotta) and her brother (Kevin Burns) are bored, with only their goldfish Fish (Danny Meglio) to keep them company. Their mother has gone out for a while, so they sit by the window and watch the rain fall. When the brother says “How I wish we had something to do,” the door suddenly swings open and in walks the Cat in the Hat (Antoine Jones), ready to entertain the children with some tricks he knows, and the fun begins.

Now everyone who shares their home with a cat knows that cats make messes, and this feline, although he’s wearing a hat, is no exception. In the first act he impressively balances on one leg while holding books, an umbrella, a fan, a rake, milk on a dish, a toy ship, a toy man, a cake and poor Fish before it all comes crashing down.

The cast of Dr. Seuss’ ‘The Cat in the Hat’. Photo by Jennifer Tully

In the second act, that mischievous kitty releases Thing 1 (Alyson Leonard) and Thing 2 (Marquez Stewart) from a box and things only get crazier from there. They fly kites in the house, breaking things along the way, much to the delight of the young audience. “It’s a beautiful mess,” exclaims the Cat in the Hat.

When the kids see Mother coming down the road, they know that they have to catch Thing 1 and Thing 2 and clean up before she gets home. An exciting chase scene, accompanied by the Benny Hill theme song, ensues. Will they succeed or will time run out?

Directed by Suzie Dunn, the seven adult actors do an excellent job portraying the story. The actors interact with the audience often, making them feel like they are a part of the show. At one point Meglio makes his way through the audience with a bubble machine. Later on, Aliotta invites children on stage to dance with her. Special mention should be made of Jones who clearly loves children and is funny and engaging. From the moment his character’s red-and-white-striped hat appears around the door, the audience knows they are in for a real treat. So run, don’t walk, to see the cat, The Cat in the Hat!

Running time is one hour and 10 minutes with one 15-minute intermission. Booster seats are available. Meet the cast in the lobby after the show for photos and autographs.

The John W. Engeman Theater, 250 Main St., Northport will present Dr. Seuss “The Cat in the Hat” through March 4. Up next in children’s theater is “The Wizard of Oz” from March 24 to April 29. All seats are $15. For more information, call 631-261-9700 or visit www.engemantheater.com.