April 2009 – “I’ve Got Brains in My Head and Feet in My Shoes!”

April 2009 Newsletter From My Website

“I’ve Got Brains in My Head and Feet in My Shoes!”
Quietly, I make my way along the light-lit path and out onto the deck of the Pentacle Theatre. I can just hear The Cat in the Hat starting the auction scene in act two in “Seussical the Musical”. Turning right, walking past the doors to the auditorium, I find the narrow door many people don’t even notice is there. Over the last few months, I have learned the Pentacle Theatre has many such doors, doors people don’t see as they walk past on the deck or down below near the lobby. These doors are often the most interesting ones though! They lead downstairs to the dressing room, the paint room, the costume floor, and the one I’m pulling open, to the sound booth. Knowing the audience is just on the other side of a thin wooden wall, I creep up the small stairs and let myself into a larger-than-you’d-think black room above the audience. Paige, the sound technician, sees me come in and cheerfully says, “Hey girl! A seat’s over there.” I pull out the chair and bring it over to the counter overlooking the audience and stage below. I can see it’s another sold out night, it’s the show that in a few weeks, will set the record for attendance and money earned for any Pentacle show. Ever.

For now, I’m just happy to see my friends perform a play I have quickly grown to love over the weeks I have been photographing them. An incredible cast of actors, they have welcomed me into their Seussical world as their friend and personal paparazzi. Having already spent one entire night in the dressing room with them, I can picture what they are doing when not on stage. But as the next song starts up, these thoughts are set aside and I listen to the words sung, words that have been sinking deeper and deeper into my heart every time I hear them. And as I have them on my ipod as well, I hear them a lot. The messages inherent in the show have been finding their mark in me and I am captured in what they teach.

One of my favorite scenes is when Jo-Jo is taking a bath and imagines he’s really in McElliot’s Pool, singing “Anything’s Possible!” Jo-Jo thinks incredible thinks, encouraged on by the cat who sometimes gets him in trouble, but Jo-Jo changes the world around him in the process. Just because something doesn’t seem to be true, doesn’t mean it’s not. Jo-Jo thinks outside the box, outside of black and white, outside of what others tell him is so. Instead, he dreams in bright colors and flies to places like Solla Solew. These worlds he thinks of come to life around him and he brings forth the truth that we have the power to create our thinks, we have the power to bring to life what is in our heads and that often times, there is a lot more around us than what we see and hear.

Later that night as Jo-Jo is lying in bed and longing for a true friend in the universe, he meets Horton the Elephant protecting the clover their tiny dust speck of a planet is on. No one believes that Horton can hear people on the dust speck, all the jungle animals think he’s crazy but after all, “an elephant’s faithful 100% percent,” and he knows they are there and firmly believes “a person’s a person no matter how small.” Just because they can’t be seen, doesn’t mean they are any less important, that every voice in the universe needs to be heard. He puts the Whos who live on the planet first before himself, protecting them despite the opposition. Then while sitting there protecting the clover, he hears Jo-Jo and they find they both dream and understand how alone each other feels. They find someone to believe in and who believes in them. Throughout the show, the theme of faithfulness, of being true to your word, and sticking by what you know to be true, is woven into the fabric of the story in circling patterns, ever growing wider and deeper.

While Horton protects the Whos, there is another faithful character named Gertrude, a one feather-tailed bird. Gertrude has admired Horton from afar with his “kind and powerful heart” but Horton has never really noticed Gertrude. Wanting to be beautiful so Horton will notice her, she goes to the doctor and takes pills to make her tail grow. It does grow, so long in fact, she can no longer fly. Horton doesn’t notice her still and by the end of the second act, she realizes that to be able to help Horton, she really just needs to be herself, large feet, pitiful tweet, and all. She teaches there are songs we are each given, ways we look, feel, and those things are there for a reason. We are each created to be who we are and to grow through that experience.

While each of the characters are having troubles galore, The Cat pops in as he often does, singing, “tell yourself how lucky you are! When the fates are unkind and you get kicked from behind, tell yourself how lucky you are.” His message, among the many, is to look to the light, the bright side, all of the things you do have. Why decry the dark sky? Things could be worse after all. Just think of life as a thrill and be thankful you’ve gotten this far. Find all the gifts in your life, the beauty and the love. Instead of concentrating on what you don’t have, concentrate on what you DO have. And we have quite a lot.

There is a point in the second act when Jo-Jo is lost and scared. He doesn’t know what to do or where to go when The Cat pops in again and urges him to think of a glimmer of light and to follow his hunch. These are some of the lyrics from the song.

Follow your Hunch!
And oh!
The places you’ll go!
I’ve got brains in my head
And feet in my shoes
So steer yourself any direction you choose!
And oh, the places you’ll go!
Set your hunches free to wander
And follow them where they roam
And follow your hunch
Follow your hunch
Follow it… home!
Anything’s possible!
Jo-Jo finds that if he trusts himself, if he listens to the voice inside, pays attention to it, it will lead him where he wants to go. He already has everything he needs within him, brains in his head and feet in his shoes. Imagination, faithfulness, a positive outlook, and believing in your own power are all qualities that carry the characters through the difficulties that arise. I have had friends in my life who have instilled these lessons, these words, into the very rhythms of my breath, but seeing them sung on stage night after night, seeing them lived out by the actors in and out of costume, made them sink that much deeper into the makeup of who I am and they helped me find the additional confidence I need to find where I want to go. Anything is possible.

365-09 #93

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