Who knew that a man named Theodor Geisel could write the stuff that can make the children around the world think, dream, and be happy as well as provide the material for the wonderful musical called Seussical. Theodor Geisel is indeed Dr. Seuss and Seussical, written by Lynn Ahrens and Stephen Flaherty, combines many of his well known books — Horton Hears A Who!, The Cat In A Hat, Green Eggs and Ham, Yertle the Turtle, Oh, the Places You’ll Go, and How the Grinch Stole Christmas. Together they tell the story of Horton’s journey to save some very small people misplaced on a clover, to find the meaning of true friendship, and to realize the importance of a promise.
…Seussical must not be missed!
Imagination Stage’s production of Seussical, directed by Janet Stanford, does an astounding job of bringing our favorite Dr. Seuss’s books to life. Horton the Elephant (played by Matthew Anderson) jumps off the page and instantly envelops the audience into his world. We are along for the ride as Horton hears tiny voices on a tiny dust speck and resolves to protect the tiny people of Whoville, because “people are people no matter how small.”
Soon the other jungle animals take notice of Horton apparently talking to “himself.” He tries in vain to explain that there are tiny people with tiny houses and tiny jobs on the speck as he places it carefully on a clover. The Sour Kangaroo (played by Ayanna Hardy) scoffs at Horton and persuades the Wickersham monkeys that Horton must be crazy because there are no people that small. The Wickersham brothers ally themselves with the Sour Kangaroo, and the chase is on.
The Cat in the Hat (Jamie Smithson) narrates the action as Horton flees and runs into other Dr. Seuss characters like Gertrude McFuzz (Shayna Blass), a bird who wishes she had more than one tail feather like all the other birds. Gertrude is in love with Horton and promises to help protect the tiny speck.
Then as Horton passes by a bird in a tree
and that bird called Mayzie (Kirstin Riegler) is lazy as can be.
She begs Horton to sit on her egg
as she is tired and has cramps in her legs.
Horton says yes he will sit and sit
he did through rain and through snow, he didn’t give in a bit.
When Gertrude finds him with the lost clover,
Horton decides he could wait no longer.
On they went to keep the speck safe
and on Horton’s back the egg he did take.
When the Sour Kangaroo and the Wickersham monkeys caught up to Horton and Gertrude they took the clover
and without any virtue they planned to boil the clover,
tiny speck, and Whoville all over.
This is when the smallest Whoville resident, Jojo (played by Svea Johnson), proves that no matter how small or young you are, you can make a difference. He thinks up a sound and yells it out loud enough so that the Sour Kangaroo and the Wickersham brothers finally hear the Whovilles on the tiny speck of dust. As soon as they hear, they declare that they too will do everything possible to protect the Who’s.
This tale has all the things one looks for in a story. There is love, friendship, and growth. The little guy proves he can do big things, and the big guy proves he can do little things. Working together, each character makes a huge difference in Horton’s world, in the Who’s world, and in the real world.
As a reviewer, I try my best to look at all parts of a production: in addition to the actors, the lights (designed by Catherine Girardi), the sound (coordinated by Chris Baine), the dancing (choreographed by Karma Camp), the set (designed by Tom Donahue) and costumes (designed by Frank Labovitz). I searched and searched for one weak link in the production and, to my joy, I could find no such imperfection. Everything was brilliantly done and a delight to watch. My eight-year-old daughter was the entire time leaning forward, eyes wide with a smile on her face. And now that I think about it, so was I!
Imagination Stage’s production of Seussical must not be missed!
Running Time: Approximately 90 minutes with no intermission.
Seussical is playing through January 6, 2012 at the Imagination Stage, 4908 Auburn Avenue Bethesda, Maryland 20814. For tickets call the box office at 301-280-1660 or click here.