Phoenix Readers present Dr. Seuss to Smart Start Rowan

Published 12:05 am Tuesday, January 17, 2017

By Susan Shinn Turner
Smart Start Rowan

When listening to Seuss, you can’t be sad. You can’t be mad, you can only be glad.

The Phoenix Readers brought the Wonderful World of Dr. Seuss to a small but appreciative group on Wednesday at Smart Start Rowan. The readers are a company of a dozen performers, led by Dr. Jim Epperson, who share their talents with a variety of groups.

“The accent is on reading, and the performers are all seniors,” he said before Wednesday’s event. “We have performed at churches, senior centers, libraries and civic clubs. We travel wherever people want us.”

The Phoenix Readers are a part of the Center for Faith and the Arts, and they accept donations on behalf of that organization, to which Smart Start Rowan contributed on Wednesday, Epperson said.

The group reads everything from poetry to short stories and presented a Christmas program over the holidays, Epperson said. The Wonderful World of Dr. Seuss is for children and adults alike. After all, he said, “Adults are children when it comes to Dr. Seuss.”

And so it was with this group. Moms, caregivers and children all smiled and laughed as the six performers perched on stools and read Seuss’ delightful, silly, whimsical, and often-times made-up words.

Yertle the Turtle and the Northbound and Southbound Zax all made their appearances. The readers turned out to be fine kazoo players as well, punctuating the end of each reading with a tune or two.

The children especially loved “Mr. Brown Can Moo, Can You?” making all the fun sounds that come with that story: moo, buzz, clop clop, cocka-doodle-doo, dribble-dribble drop.

Alexa Alvarez, 2, who attended with her mom, Claudia Rodrigues, babbled happily along with the group.

Next to them, Brynlynn Shaw, 2, eyes wide, sat with her mom, Dedra Earnhardt.

“It was funny!” her mom said. “We liked it.”

Also enjoying the morning was Jack Hagen, 3, who came with his mom, Michelle, and his “lovey,” a well-loved Cleo the Cat.

“It was very cute,” Hagen said. “We’ve never seen the Phoenix Readers. I’m so glad we got to come.”

Wednesday performers included Nick Bishop, Mike and Judy Cline, Ray Davies, Jimmie Moomaw and Becky Porter. Other company members include Kate Davis, Buddy Farnan, Rebekah Hardison, Linda Jones and Shawn Van Wallandael.

Most have theater or acting experience. Moomaw was a professor of communication for 41 years.

“I have a theater degree I didn’t use for 57 years,” she said. “I’m loving doing this.”

Davies was involved in theater at Catawba before he graduated in 1974. He is a retired carpenter and English teacher.

“I’ve loved every minute of it,” he said.

“Early literacy is one of the focus areas of Smart Start Rowan,” said Mary Burridge, family support manager. “We are always looking for ways to make reading fun, not only for children but for the whole family. Today, The Phoenix Readers showed us all that reading can be fun at any age. We are honored that each member of the group took time to share their talents with us today.”

The Phoenix Readers meet each Thursday at Center for Faith and the Arts to prepare for upcoming events, Epperson noted.

For more information about the Phoenix Readers, visit

Smart Start Rowan is a United Way agency.