**This post is dedicated to James Horner. With compositions such as “Whispering Winds” from The Land Before Time, and “The Gift of Mortality” from Bicentennial Man, he continues to remind me of the importance of music in my life. R.I.P. James. Someday, I hope to see you in Solla Sollew**
“There’s a far away land
So the stories all tell
Somewhere beyond the horizion
If we can find it then
All will be well
Troubles there are few
Someday we’ll go to
For those who don’t know, I’m going to be The Cat In The Hat in a production of Seussical that will be opening at the very end of this month. Rehearsals couldn’t be more of a blast; I’m making a ton of new friends, and everybody is getting along as if they are at Seuss Landing within the confines of Islands of Adventure. It was an experience that I’ve been anticipating ever since I found out about it back in January, and so far, it’s been shattering my expectations constantly.
But none of the rehearsals so far could compare to last night’s rehearsal, where I took part in practicing “Solla Sollew”, a song that appears in the middle of Act Two.
First, a summary of where the song ends up in the show: Horton is officially a part of the Circus McGurkus, while also being the owner of an egg that originally belonged to Mayzie. He is forced to remain there while the Whos in Whoville—residing inside a speck on top of a precious clover—suffer from anxiety of being squished, stomped, or possibly killed. It is, quite possibly, the most emotionally and psychologically darkest moment in the show, but one that feels completely necessary in order to leave a slice of thought for the audience.
Rehearsing it last night was an incredibly surreal experience for a couple of pivotal reasons.
One is that in all of my years as an amateur theatrical performer, I’d never thought I’d be performing in a production of Seussical. I remember being at TEXAS Roadhouse one night talking with my good friend Danielle Hopkins (who also played Gertrude in an AWESOME production of Seussical back in 2010); as someone who had been in a couple of productions of the show already, she jokingly admitted that “you’re either in productions of Seussical for the rest of your life, or you’re not”. Ever since that night, I kept on thinking about whether or not I would ever be in a production of Seussical within the rest of my lifetime. And now here I am, a couple of years later, rehearsing a song that is guaranteed to break me down emotionally during the closing performance.
Which leads me to the second reason: take out “Solla Sollew”, and there’s no Seussical. There. I said it. Oh, don’t get me wrong, Seussical would remain an amazing show with some emotional resonance to spare, which can be found in songs such as “Alone in the Universe”. But at the risk of sounding like a hyperbolic maniac (which I already am, so no need to judge), “Solla Sollew” is the most important song in the entire show, and last night’s rehearsal made me realize just how pivotal it is for the musical to exist at all.
But now one might ask: “Why exactly? I thought silly ol’ Seuss was just simple kids’ stuff.”
Um…No, not really.
A song like “Solla Sollew” in something as wonderful as Seussical is not “simple kids’ stuff”. “Simple kids’ stuff” doesn’t make me think about what my own interpretation of Solla Sollew could be like. “Simple kids’ stuff” doesn’t make me think about the loss of my father, who was director of the musicals that were put on by the East Hartford Summer Youth Festival (which is the theater group that’s putting on this production of Seussical at the end of the month). “Simple kids’ stuff” doesn’t make me think about how this musical was performed in Newtown, CT as a heartfelt tribute to the victims of the Sandy Hook Elementary School massacre (John Tartaglia stepped in as The Cat)**. And “simple kids’ stuff” doesn’t make me realize that, in about forty days or so, I will be beginning a new chapter of my life, and I will be missing the people that have helped me become the man that I am today.
Admittedly, and thankfully, nobody has come up to me and said Dr. Seuss was exactly that, but that would be my response on how to handle such a matter.
Regardless, “Solla Sollew” is a vital ingredient to a musical like Seussical—it is not only proof that one song in a musical can make all the difference in the world (a song is a song, no matter how short); it is a work of art that allows you to think about many, many thinks, and If a work of art manages to accomplish that, then it has officially done its job.
Now excuse me, I have rehearsal in a few minutes.