As part of Pumpkin Theatre’s series of “theatre for kids by kids,” Seussical Jr., The Musical, gloriously sings and dances its way onto the Pumpkin stage. Seussical Jr. is directed by Jimi Kinstle and is based on the books by Dr. Seuss, with Book by Lynn Ahrens and Stephen Flaherty, Music by Stephen Flaherty, Lyrics by Lynn Ahrens and co-conceived by Eric Idle.
Seussical Jr. has many of our favorite Dr. Seuss characters join in the great thinking adventure of a boy (Steven Gross) and our host, The Cat In The Hat (Allison Mudd). The first song, “Oh, The Thinks You Can Think,” highlights the importance of using your imagination to think up all kinds of good things and introduces all the characters whose stories are featured. There is Horton the Elephant, Gertrude McFuzz (the bird with the one-feather tail), Mayzie La Bird, the Sour Kangaroo, the Citizens of the Jungle of Nool, and the Whos of Whoville, –including the Mayor, his Wife and little Jo Jo.
As I looked around during the performance, not one child was looking anywhere else but the stage – totally absorbed and smiling. Then again, I was too.
The Cat In The Hat and the boy use their imaginations to transport the audience to the Jungle of Nool, where we find Horton the Elephant, splashing in a jungle pool. Horton hears voices coming from a speck of dust flying around and concludes that there must be people on that dust speck flying around. He decides he must protect them, because “a person’s a person no matter how small.”
Once he settles the speck on a clover, he meets the whole town of Whos. The other jungle animals, however, don’t believe the Whos exist, so they bully Horton and call him a fool. The other jungle animals take the clover from him and drop it in a field of clovers. Horton doesn’t give up and picks every clover to find the Whos. When one obstacle after another pops up to deter Horton he stays strong and loyal to the Whos and his other friends, and that loyalty and tenacity pays off. In the end, the jungle animals all believe, and Horton and the Whos are saved.
It is easy to see that the entire cast is having a wonderful time on stage. The Wickersham Brothers (David Polsky, Carly Dagilis, Alex Cashman, Myles Muse and Maddie Reecer) sound great and have the coolest moves in the show. The Sour Kangaroo (Eva Hellerbach) belts out her main song, “Biggest Blame Fool,” with a touch of arrogance and a lot of sass, and Sadie Lange as the Young Kangaroo is just adorable. Ruby Kinstle as Gertrude McFuzz is fun to watch going from a shy, self-conscience bird to a strong bird who knows what she wants and is no longer afraid to get it.
Sheridan Merrick, as the self-obsessed Mayzie La Bird, has a powerhouse of a voice and dance moves to match. The Bird Girls (Emily Wheeler, Madelyn Schloss, and Sophie Brodinsky) make a great singing trio and look wonderful in their bird costumes. Connor Moore as Horton gently guides the show along as the kind-hearted elephant, and his strong, clear voice never wavers during his songs. The Whos in Whoville are all terrific, with Sam Willen, Ruby Webb, Maya Walsh-Little, Claire Mitchell, Nick Dimitriades, Victoria Miller, Holly Miller, Luke Miller, Jacob Rose. As the Mayor of Whoville, Luke Miller’s talent shines quite bright. And I can’t forget the contributions of Emma Moore as Yertle the Turtle and Anthony Hobbs as Vlad Vladikoff.
The new Pumpkin Theatre space was completely sold out and brimming with young children. As I looked around during the performance, not one child was looking anywhere else but the stage – totally absorbed and smiling. Then again, I was too.
Running Time: Approximately one hour with no intermission.
Seussical Jr., The Musical runs through February 16, 2014 at Pumpkin Theatre, Har Sinai Congregation, 2905 Walnut Ave, Owings Mills 21117. For information and tickets click here.