By Sally K. Albrecht
Director of School Choral &
(Photo: Heritage Middle School Choir members with Sally Albrecht and accompanist Kimberly Pryzbyl)
When we put music together with art and dance, we can create magic! That’s what the singers at Heritage Middle School (Wake Forest, NC, Elsie Shuler—Director) discovered early in the school year when they rehearsed and performed Green Eggs and Ham (arr. Andy Beck).
First, there’s a great story. Green Eggs and Ham is one of the many imaginative books written by Dr. Seuss (the pen-name of Theodor Seuss Geisel). Before it came Cat in the Hat, but this book is his top-seller. Dr. Seuss’s publisher challenged Seuss to write interesting and imaginative stories to help young readers develop their vocabulary, but using very few words. Green Eggs and Ham, published in 1960, actually consists of only 50 different words! Why not ask an English teacher to talk about this author with your singers? Have your students do a dramatic reading of the book. See if they can list the 50 different words for extra credit!
The creative team of composer Stephen Flaherty and lyricist Lynn Ahrens took many of the amazing rhyming books of Dr. Seuss and put together a musical called Seussical, which opened on Broadway in 2000. In the musical, the Cat in the Hat cleverly tells the story of the elephant Horton, who discovers tiny Whos living in a speck of dust.
We decided it would be fun to have our own hats, based on the one that the Cat in the Hat always wears. Happily, we discovered a simple craft kit available from orientaltrading.com (#IN-48/9174). These simple paper top hats (12 to a set) arrived ready for the students to color as they desired. You can use crayons, colored pencils, or markers. A small adjustable strip of paper wraps around the head (but be gentle, remember . . . this is only paper!)
We staged Green Eggs and Ham based on the choreography suggested on Alfred’s Lift Me Up! choral movement DVD (00-38171 – $39.99), though I decided to further decorate the lyrics (“house,” “mouse,” “rain,” “train,” etc.) to help us all remember the fun rhyming words!
The students performed during a special arts event at their school. And, well, it was magic. Adding the special visual touches made such a difference. And it was a perfect way to present art + music + dance! (Plus, we even got some coverage in the local paper!!)
Note: Also available:
Seussical the Musical: A Choral Medley – arr. Andy Beck (10 minutes). Available SATB, SAB, 2pt, SoundTrax, SoundPax.
GRINCH! A Christmas Choral Medley – arr. Andy Beck (4 minutes). Available SATB, SAB, 2pt, SoundTrax, SoundPax.