Notes: So that you all know, I'm not particularly proud of this chapter, nor the previous one...
Chapters like this one will be written from a different perspective than the "Backstage" chapters, as you will soon see. The song for this chapter is Oh, the Thinks You Can Think! I own it not. Now, without further adieu...
Chapter II: Play 1, The Madness Begins
The audience is tense; they are all of Underland's higher society, and all have heard of the work of their champion and her friends, working on the tale about to unfold before them. "It will be like nothing you've ever seen…of that, I can assure you," the White Queen says, and then finishes her address to the audience, descending into the orchestra seats.
The audience applauds…and all the lights in the theater of Marmoreal Palace are put out fast.
For a while, things are quiet.
Then, a single light snaps open, shining down onto the stage.
In the spotlight's glare, a very familiar top hat is seen, sitting in the very center of the dark, bare stage platform.
Footsteps are heard from the darkness, entering the scene, moving closer to the hat. A pair of pale, youthful hands enter the light, picking up the top hat carefully.
The hands are attached to arms…and the arms are attached to a Champion, dressed in an striped blouse and skirt, wearing a red cap. The costume is so convincing, the entire audience – including the Queen herself – instantly forget that the actress is Alice Kingsleigh.
All they see is Jojo.
"Now that is a very unusual hat," Jojo says, inspecting the top hat curiously, critically, and seemingly talking to herself. "What do you suppose wears a hat such as that?"
She begins to pace, the light following her as she moves.
"It could be a creature, called the Ga-Zat…who balances things on his head, because it's flat…or it could be a pipester from Upper Mount Bat…or…a sort of a..."
She smiles, looking at the hat carefully again.
"Kind of a…"
She slowly lifts that hat over her head.
The top hat lowers fast...
The instant the word is spoken, the hat flips out of her hands, just inches from touching her head, and zips out of sight. Jojo peers around, surprised, trying to figure out what has taken the curious hat away.
Then, another familiar voice echoes from the dark around her…nowhere, yet everywhere, all at once…
And, as it speaks, everyone in the audience smiles wide enough to make its owner green with envy.
"I can see that you've got quite a mind for your age! Why, one little Think, and you dragged me right onto the stage! Now I'm here! There's no telling what may ensue, with a cat such as me, and a Thinker, like you!"
The light goes out, but, quite quickly, all the lights on the stage take its place, illuminating the bare platform brightly. Jojo stares, looking delighted, but confused, at the voice's owner, who leans against the edge of the right stage entrance, grinning broadly as he places the famed hat onto his own pointy-eared head.
And he sings…
"Oh, the Thinks You Can Think! Oh, the Thinks You Can Think…if you're willing to try. Think invisible ink, or a Gink with a stink, or a stair to the sky!"
The mysterious Cat in the Hat rises, like a wingless bat, into the air, and darts over to Jojo, tapping a gloved paw against her forehead as he floats before her startled face.
"If you open your mind, oh, the Thinks you will find, lining up to get loose!"
At the word "loose," the Cat vanishes, leaving a cloud of bluish-gray mist in its wake. Jojo whips around with a squeak of surprise, and laughs as the Cat reappears, winking.
"Oh, the Thinks You Can Think, when you Think about…SEUSS!"
The Cat's cry of "Seuss!" echoes throughout the palace. The beige-colored curtains behind Jojo and the Cat lift up…and what was once a bare stage becomes a wild, screaming jungle, where not a single thing is straight. Brightly colored, tropical trees are everywhere, and a clear blue lake can be seen…the scene is both beautiful and chaotic.
The chaos is increased tenfold by the figures on stage; a mixture of both guffawing laughter and mad cheers and applause fills the ears of the cast on stage, making most of them excited, and all but a few of them a bit embarrassed.
Heck…they'll run with it.
"Oh, the Thinks You Can Think! Any Thinker who thinks can come up with a few! Take a trip on a ship to the Vripper of Vripp, or to Solla Sollew! Think of beautiful schlopp, with a cherry on top! You don't need an excuse! Oh, the Thinks You Can Think, when you Think about Seuss…"
They have been spinning and dancing as they sing in chorus, but now, as the name of "Seuss" once again is repeated, again and again, the ensemble splits in half, and a few of the cast members form a line on stage. As each actor/actress sings their line, they retreat from the front and return to the wall of cast members to each side of them.
The Hatter, in his elephant costume, gets a good laugh. He can't help but smile as he leaves the line. ("Think of an elephant, up in a tree!")
Next up are the Dodo and the Goose, each wearing pastel yellow clothes – a suit and a dress, respectively. They, too, bring forth gales of giggles. ("Think of a person, too tiny to see!")
The third seems so surprising, the audience gasps collectively, not sure if they should laugh or not: a white dormouse, in a blue feathered dress. ("Think of a bird, with a one-feathered tail…going on adventure down a dangerous trail!")
Another rodent steps forth: a large, gray mouse with a tail longer than she is tall, dressed in similar clothing to the dormouse that came before her, but with her dress toned garish, neon pink. She twirls as she exits the line, taking great care to make sure the audience remembers her long, limp tail, so easily made a dancing ribbon. ("Think of a bird, who flies off on a spree!")
If the dormouse was a shock, the next in line are horrors. The audience screams, then begins to mutter anxiously amongst themselves, when they see the two figures who arrive next…their identities should be clear. As the former ruler with the oversized skull exits, she jerks the chain on the handcuffs that connect her to her utterly humiliated and red-faced Knave, who is practically catatonic with embarrassment, and probably wants to kill someone for the treatment he is being put through…as usual. ("Think of a kangaroo, sour as can be!")
The crimson tyrant and her stooge are, miraculously, forgotten quite quickly by the audience; for the rest of the show, they don't even really realize who they are. An aged gecko is next in line, dressed in a bright soldier's outfit, grinning proudly; he's not sure why he agreed to do this, but, now that he has his old suit back, he no longer really cares. ("Think of a general…CRAZY FOR WAR!")
The line dissipates; the lights dim, and, suddenly, the mood grows gloomy and dark. They gather around "Jojo," devilish grins on most, if not all, of their faces, appearing monstrous and deranged.
"Think of something horrible and hairy…something sinister and scary, that you've never dared to Think of before! Think of nobody near, and the feeling of fear, in the darkness of night…all alone in the gloom, while you're facing your doom…"
"THINK A GLIMMER OF LIGHT!"
The sudden cry from the Cat – who has decided to make himself visible again, atop the girl's head – brings the lights back on full force, and the creatures surrounding Jojo back away sharply, laughing. The Cat snakes around her shoulders, a smirk evident on his face.
"But I hope you're prepared to be 'scareder' than scared, 'cause this ain't Mother Goose! Think right over the brink, when you Think about Seuss!"
The cat drifts to the ground, twirling the umbrella in his hands like a cane as he approaches the front of the stage, a sly smile stretched across his lips.
"An unusual story," he sings, his voice conspiratorial, "will soon be unfurled, of an elephant trying to save a small world…and a girl from that world, who has troubles galore…"
He promptly disappears, reappearing over the heads of all those on stage.
"Just Think! From the planet of Who…"
"And the smallest of small…"
"To the Jungle of Nool…"
"And the largest of all…"
The lights, one by one, flicker and flash, as the ensemble draws closer together again and approaches the front of the stage.
"If you think, and think, and think, and think, and think, and think, and think…JUST THINK! Oh, the Thinks You Can Think! Think, and wonder, and dream, far and wide as you dare! When you Think you've run dry, in the blink of an eye, there's another Think there! If you open your mind, oh, the Thinks you will find, lining up to get loose! Oh, the Thinks You Can Think…"
"Oh, the Thinks You Can Think…"
"OH, the Thinks You Can Think…"
"Oh, the Thinks You Can Think!"
"Oh, the Thinks You Can Think, when you think about Seuss!"
Slowly, the lights begin to go out, as the word "Seuss" is, once again, repeated like a mantra of mirth and madness by the entire cast. The instant they go black…
The lights return full force, and the crowd applauds.
All in the audience are thinking the same thing: THIS will be interesting.