The whole family has post play depression! Just So was a fabulous success! Maybe it was because we were all involved in some way from me sewing costumes, and carpooling, to Tessie being a backstage assistant, to Downtown Dad building sets – and Bearly’s singing and dancing debut as Rhino, but it was a great way to spend those winter doldrums!
Just So, is Rudyard Kipling’s take on how all of the animals in the jungle got their unique shapes and colors after starting out all the same. It starts with all of the animals being fed up with the giant crab who rules the tides, alternately causing droughts and flooding. The Eldest magician, meets an elephants child, who ceaselessly asks questions. The magician pairs him up with a flightless kolokolo bird who knows everything. After learning that the giant crab favors the mouth of the great gray green greasy limpopo river as his feeding spot, the magician sends the two sailing off to politely ask the crab to stop playing with the sea. Along the way, they meet several animals who are in the process of becoming themselves. A giraffe and zebra, are tired of living with boring wildebeasts and running from a lascivious Leopard and Jaguire, who just want to take the ladies out to dinner. The girls pick up their hooves and trot from the high velt to the jungle, and in the process the jungle light changes their skin so they can better blend in. Unfortunately, the Leopard and Jaguire follow them and their skin is also changed, so the chase continues. In their travels, the Elephant’s Child, who does not yet have a trunk, and the flightless Kolokolo Bird, who has not yet learned to fly, come upon a deserted island, inhabited by a reclusive Parsee Man and his beloved Cooking Stove. The Parsee man is sad because due to the unpredictable tides, he has no ingredients with which to bake a cake in his marvelous cooking stove. Also on this deserted island lives a very bad mannered Rhino who’s skin, while thick, is very smooth. Rhino, a combination of Elvis and Jackie Gleason, accompanied by his posse of birds wonders if anyone can think of something nice that they can say about a Rhino. While fully aware of his lack of manners, he is very proud of his thick skin. He laments the lack of cakes, and the Parsee Man’s stingy nature. The Koloko Bird and the Elephant’s Child pursuade the Parsee Man to bake one of his world famous cakes using his emergency rations. The rations sing and dance as the Parsee Man teaches everyone to walk the Parsee cake cake walk walk. In the midst of this, the Rhino smells a cake being baked and returns. Just as the cake is finished baking – he steals it – thus angering the Parsee Man. Another creature they encounter is the Kangaroo who tells them both the story of how he once had a shape like all the other animals until two yellow dingo dogs chased him all over Austrailia, causing his legs to grow in leaps and bounds. The journey progresses, and the Kolokolo bird tires of the Elephant Child’s questions, so she goes off on her own, only to be taken captive by the Jaguire and the Leopard. The Elephant’s Child saves her, but again she runs off. This time she sees other birds flying and we learn that behind her know-it-all attitude, she is very afraid – mostly of flying. While she is away from the Elephant’s Child, he again encounters the Parsee Man, The Cooking Stove and the Rhino who are still fighting. Now the Rhino’s smooth skin is baggy and wrinkled. The Elephant’s Child being curious, asks how that happened. The Rhino tearfully relates the story of how on one fearsome hot day he took off his skin to take a dip in the river. As he was cooling off, The Parsee Man, filled the Rhino’s empty skin with cake crumbs, all that was left of the cake that was stolen – so that when he put his skin back on it tickled and itched so that he stretched and scratched and pulled his beautiful skin all out of shape. Despite this tragedy, the Elephant’s Child and the Cooking Stove are able to mediate a truce between the Parsee Man and Rhino and they become best friends. The Elephant Child realizes that he has found the great gray green greasy limpopo river at last! He asks the first creature he sees to help him find the crab. That creature is a giant crocodile who tries to eat the Elephant’s child. His head stuck in the crocodile’s jaws, the Elephant’s Child cries out for the Kolokolo Bird to help him. The Kolokolo Bird, having at last learned how to fly swoops in and pulls the Elephant’s child out of the Crocodile’s mouth, stretching his nose into a trunk.
All of the animals gather and help the Elephant’s Child convince the crab – who is not giant after all – to quit playing with the sea, and everyone lives happily ever after.