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Colorful characters, song and dance enliven show for all ages in upcoming production

Who can resist a musical with an elephant, a cat and an invisible world of Whos?COURTESY PHOTO: JASMINE RAMIREZ - Jorie Jones, drama teacher at Oregon City High School, will be directing OCHS's first musical since 2019.

Jorie Jones, the drama teacher at Oregon City High School, chose "Seussical the Musical" for the spring production, precisely because she knew that the show would appeal to the whole family.

It opens at 7 p.m. May 12 and continues at 7 p.m. on May 14, 19, 20 and 21; there are two matinees at 2 p.m. on May 15 and 22, at the high school.

"Seussical" is an inclusive show with a powerful message that "a person's a person, no matter how small," Jones said.

"These last couple of years have been incredibly difficult for the entire world, and students have struggled. With the show centering around the power of kindness, friendship and imagination, this musical was high on my list to bring to my students," she added.

"Seussical" is the first musical at OCHS since 2019, Jones noted, adding that although the show is targeted towards children, there is plenty of content that adults and high school students will love.

COURTESY PHOTO: JASMINE RAMIREZ - Jorie Jones, drama teacher at Oregon City High School, interacts with her musical theater class.

Family, community

Jones described the show as a "fantastical, magical, musical extravaganza."

Those familiar with the works of Dr. Seuss will enjoy seeing such familiar characters as Horton the Elephant, The Cat in the Hat, Gertrude McFuzz, Mayzie La Bird and Jojo, a little boy with a big imagination.

"The colorful characters transport us from the Jungle of Nool to the Circus McGurkus to the invisible world of the Whos," Jones said.

As the musical unfolds, Horton "faces a double challenge — not only must he protect the Whos from a world of naysayers and dangers, but he must guard an abandoned egg, left in his care by the irresponsible Mayzie La Bird," Jones said.

"Although Horton faces ridicule, danger, kidnapping and a trial, the intrepid Gertrude McFuzz never loses faith in him. Ultimately, the powers of friendship, loyalty, family and community are challenged and emerge triumphant," she added.

Challenges

With a cast of 40 and another 15 students working behind the scenes, "there is so much more in a musical than a play," Jones said.

For plays, Jones works with students on acting and blocking, but a musical incorporates singing and dancing and a choir director coming in to help with musical directing.

Also, she noted, with musicals students must not only memorize lines, but also music, choreography and blocking.

In spite of the challenges, Jones said getting back on the stage with a big show has been fun both for her and the students.

Because the cast is so talented, it was difficult for Jones to pick a memorable moment in the musical, but she did note that there "is a guy group of monkeys, the Wickersham Brothers, and they have the coolest dances. They are like a '90s boy band, and they don't disappoint."

Although "Seussical" is likely to appeal to children, parents should be aware that the show is three hours long, with a 15-minute intermission.

First teaching job

This is the first full-time teaching job for Jones and the first time she has had her own drama program.

Teaching drama virtually during the pandemic as not ideal, but she noted that she was fortunate in that she was able to figure out a way to make performance classes work.

"I found a lot of useful and interactive apps for online teaching that allowed me to keep track of my students' progress," she said.

"There were also a lot of filmed performances that forced my students to get out of their comfort zone of performing. For many of them, it was the first time that they had to watch themselves perform," Jones said.

"My goal last year was to make my students feel comfortable enough to come back each week and interact over Zoom," she added.

This year, "we were all so excited to meet each other in person. I had so many students who were thankful to be able to perform again and be back in a community where they are accepted," Jones said.

In the fall, many ninth and 10th graders who had never done theater before auditioned for the school play.

Jones, added, "That was really amazing. It basically felt like I started a whole new program when everyone came back."

"Seussical the Musical"

When: 7 p.m. on May 12, 14, 19, 20 and 21 and 2 p.m. on May 15 and 22

Where: Oregon City High School, 19761 S. Beavercreek Road

Tickets: $12; $6 for children under 10. Cash or check at the door; no credit card readers

Details: Although the musical will appeal to children, it is three hours long with one 15-minute intermission.

More: Local vendors will sell their goods in the lobby. Attendees may buy raffle tickets to win over $200 worth of gift cards, along with Seussical-theme gift baskets and goodies donated by local businesses.


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