One-man performance of “The Lorax” continues Earth Day events


“Unless someone like you cares a whole awful lot, nothing is going to get better. It’s not.” — “The Lorax”

WKU students, staff, and community members were entertained by a one-man performance of Dr. Seuss’s “The Lorax” in Mass Media Auditorium Wednesday

Actor Carl Lombardi performed the poem in its entirety for more than 120 community members, staff, and students, both collegiate and elementary.

The presentation is a part of WKU’s Earth Day festivities, put on by the Department of Sustainability, Center for Environmental Education and Sustainability, and GreenToppers.

Terry Wilson, director of the Center for Environmental Education and Sustainability, welcomed guests with opening remarks. Wilson said this event was cosponsored with his department, and that he was looking forward to the other Earth Day events going on around campus.

Before Lombardi began his performance, he explained to the audience that he wanted them to participate too. He selected rows of the audience to represent different whimsical characters from “The Lorax,” and when cued, each section did their best character impressions.

“At the far end of town where the grickle grass grows,” Lombardi recited the opening line from the top of the auditorium seats. “Now, everyone, give me your best grickle grass!”

Lombardi continued to recite Seuss’s poem, telling the story of greedy Once-ler, who chopped down an entire Truffula tree forest to produce more and more goods. Despite countless warnings from the Lorax, a character who “speaks for the trees,” the Once-ler is left with dying remnants of once fertile land.

In his old age, the Once-ler realizes that his actions were senseless and that the Lorax was right, and leaves a Truffula tree seed to the narrator to replant the forest.

In the performance, Lombardi played the Once-ler, narrator, and the Lorax, quickly and seamlessly switching from character to character to continue the story.

After the show, Lombardi said he never thought he’d be performing shows.

“I started performing at open mic readings and poetry slams,” he said. “I really came in from the poetry side, not a performance side.”

He said he learned and developed his character techniques from Poetry Alive, a company based out of North Carolina where Lombardi worked for eight years.

Lombardi said his father works with Wilson, who invited him to perform at summer conferences.

“So, obviously, I picked environmental poetry, and one of the poems I picked was ‘The Lorax’,” Lombardi said. “The more I did it, the more people I got involved, and those were just adults.”

Lombardi said he performed “The Lorax” earlier at Murray State University for 600 third through fifth graders.

“It was so entertaining to see entire sections of kids all stand up and do their best Truffula tree,” he said.

Though he enjoys performing the story for younger audiences, Lombardi said “adults tend to appreciate the subtleties of [The Lorax].”

“I can’t think of a more concise way of putting that large a concept together,” Lombardi said. “Seuss is a brilliant writer.”

WKU junior education major Emily Conner attended the performance as a part of her professional development work, but ended up “really enjoying it.”

“I thought it was awesome, and it was really neat to see one person impersonate that many characters from one book,” she said.

The next event for WKU’s Earth Day celebration is at 7 p.m. tonight in the MMTH auditorium. Krotchet Kids Intl. founder Kohl Crecelius will be talking about “how did three college kids empower more than a hundred people in Uganda and Peru,” according to the Office of Sustainability’s website.