All the Whos make Seuss a Whoville success

Dylan Williamson and Jeroen van Tyn read The Trouble in Getting to Solla Sollew during the “Which Way” interpretive dances Friday at the Durango Arts Center. The event was inspired by the “Seuss on the Loose” exhibit. Enlarge photo

RORY CHAPMAN/Special to The Durango Herald

Dylan Williamson and Jeroen van Tyn read The Trouble in Getting to Solla Sollew during the “Which Way” interpretive dances Friday at the Durango Arts Center. The event was inspired by the “Seuss on the Loose” exhibit.

There’s no way around it, I can’t resist writing at least part of this lead item in rhyme as an homage to “Seuss on the Loose,” the just-closed exhibit at the Durango Arts Center, and to all the organizers, especially Mary Ellen Long and Suzy DiSanto.

So, with my sincerest apologies in advance, here we go:

Addicted to rhythm, addicted to rhyme,

This story is written to the beat, in time.

Call it “Seuss on the Loose”redux,

With cats in hats and even a tux.

All the Durangoans and all of the Whos,

Went to the finale and shouted woo-hoo!

The Grinch got some advice;

All were happy and nice,

Even Thing One and Thing Two,

Red fish and blue.

The Lorax was calling,

Truffula trees falling.

There was Horton and Yertle and even Sam I Am,

Who’s still pigging out on green eggs and ham.

The stage was filled with dancers galore,

And the house was full of even more,

Seuss fans, large and small,

Some quite short and some so tall.

All clapping and cheering,

Mascara was smearing.

Dancers were dancing, and readers were reading,

While other voices sadly were pleading:

Please stay! Don’t go!

No way! But no!

Off and away, the exhibit is flying,

Geisel’s characters sadly goodbying.

We don’t get to see much, they said, while waving,

But in Durango we got the attention we’re craving.

Musicals and lectures, politics and play,

This was one exhibit that was A-OK.

Whew, enough with the rhyming, we’ve had too much,

So let’s get on with the story, the names and such.

The exhibit ended with one final hour to view the original drawings and a performance in the Barbara Conrad Gallery of “The Green Pants,” inspired by the book What Was I Scared Of?John Rubano performed the text, while Nanette Cresto and Dylan Williamson presented the action.

The free farewell “Which Way” filled the DAC’s theater to overflowing, with a number of people turned away at the door. The show was a tad uneven, partly because of technical difficulties, but no one, performer or audience, could be anything less than joyful when celebrating the works that have helped more than three generations learn to read, laughing all the way. It was a fun mix of thoroughly familiar Dr. Seuss tales and some of the more obscure.

Matt Simonsen not only opened the show as the iconic Cat in the Hat, he performed some rhyming magic, while Alyse M. Neubert both choreographed and sang “Life of the Party” as Cat in the Hat II, inspired by the Cat in the Hat Comes Back.

From there on out, the show was an interesting mélange of dramatic readings, original dances performed by students from several local dance schools and comic bits.

Jeroen van Tyn presented the introductory reading of My Many Colored Days, before the dancers from Durango Youth Ballet from Ballet Durango took the floor for “Mixed Emotions.” The stage was as bright as a Dr. Seuss book with Billy Pinto, Bernadette Bianchi, Francesca Bianchi, Holly Tate, Aja Robbins, Laura Pritchard,Claudia Marron and Ellie Ellis bringing life to the choreography of Frances Rosser Taylor.

Mistress of ceremonies Williamsonhad fun taking calls from favorite Seuss characters seeking advice on her Seuss-a-Phone, and in several mini-numbers, called Seussosophical Intersections, van Tyn read snippets from various books, which were accompanied by dances by Anne Bartlett and Cresto.

Erika Wilson-Golightly choreographed “Blue Fish” and danced it with Jaime Pittman, Laurena Matava and Molly Matava.

Brenna Christianson didn’t let van Tyn have all the reading fun, taking on The Lorax, as Laurena Matava made the environmental cautionary tale come to life with DiSanto’s choreography. (DiSanto also directed and produced the entire show.)

The final big dance was “Elephants,” inspired by Horton Hears a Who. Dani Scarafiotti created the dance for her students in the Bella Dance Co., including Abigail Barth, Alexa Dobbs, Catie Marqua, Hannah Paxon, Samantha Purdy, Sydney Spies and Alex Williams.

And now as the memories are all that are left,

Let us be thankful, not sad or bereft.

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Oh, the places these folks will go for their birthdays (when I get going on a theme, there’s no stopping me) – Deb Smith, Mike Johnson, Tamra Lavengood, Alma Wolf, Jackie Manning, Elizabeth Oetter, Donovan Schardt, Matt Patton, Patrick McBrayer, Marti Kiely, Everett Hoyt, Blaine Thomson, Norene Smith, Marie Davis, Timber Zink, Harry Goff, Dale Warren, Jessica Hill, Sierra Lillard, Zachary Schmidt, Patrick McBrayer, Daniel Latham, Stacy Webb, McKenzie Rion,Sharon Gordon, Julie Shimada, Will Siegrist and Carol Grenoble.

It will be a bittersweet birthday for Joanne Spina, who lost her husband, Rob Freeman, to cancer at the beginning of the month, but I hope she’ll be comforted by knowing her many friends are remembering her today.

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All aboard! There are still a number of seats available on the benefit Polar Express train ride, whose proceeds will be donated to the medical fund for longtime community volunteer and radio personality Bruce Anderson. He’s recovering from a massive stroke.

It’s the first train of the season, Destination North Pole, complete with hot chocolate, cookies and sleigh bells for all the girls and boys.

Ward Holmes, Anderson’s good friend, reminded me that people who may not have children can purchase tickets and donate them to Big Brothers Big Sisters (one adult and one child ticket sends a Big and a Little on the adventure), the Boys and Girls Club, or families in the neighborhood, at Manna Soup Kitchen or the Volunteers of America Community Shelter.

It’s important to fill this train for three reasons. First, of course, is the fact that medical care is trés expensive for a major malady, and every dollar will make a difference. Second, Anderson loves trains, and it will make him happy to think of all those children joining him in his love affair with our historic railroad. And finally, it is so heartening to know how many people are rooting for you when you’re in for a long-haul heal.

If you’re going to donate tickets, get them today and get them delivered to the recipient so they can plan because the train pulls out of the station at 6:50 p.m. sharp Friday.

Tickets are available at the depot and online at

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Greg Hustis, artistic director of Music in the Mountains, has been much in the news of late. He announced that the 2011-2012 season of the Dallas Symphony Orchestra will be his final as principal horn – after 35 years. In orchestra years, where there’s usually a lot of toing and froing, that’s like three centuries or so. He’ll stick around for another couple of years as principal emeritus to assist his successor, and then he’ll be freeing up more time to pursue solo and chamber music.

Hustis already had one cool solo gig that’s related to his 24 years with our classical music festival. (When this man signs on, he sticks around.) At the beginning of November, music lovers in Sioux Falls, S.D., enjoyed his talents at the Augustana College Band’s Fall Concert.

Former Fort Lewis College percussion professor John Pennington, who has performed with MITM for a couple of decades himself, now teaches at Augustana. In the music biz, it’s all about who you know.

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It may be a tad brown outside, but everything inside is coming up roses for the anniversaries of Don and Mary Southworth, Lee and Pauline Murphy, Paul and Bev Dittmer and Reg and Beverly Graham.

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Dylan Williamson keeps the crowd entertained between dances by handing out advice on her Seuss-a-Phone during “Which Way,” interpretive dances inspired by Dr. Seuss on Friday at the Durango Arts Center. Enlarge photo

RORY CHAPMAN/Special to the Durango Herald

Dylan Williamson keeps the crowd entertained between dances by handing out advice on her Seuss-a-Phone during “Which Way,” interpretive dances inspired by Dr. Seuss on Friday at the Durango Arts Center.