SEUSSICAL – Music by Stephen Flaherty; Lyrics by Lynn Ahrens; Book by Lynn Ahrens, Stephen Flaherty, and Eric Idle; Co-directed by Kelly Van Oosbree and Victoria Holloway; Music Direction by Heather Iris Holt; Choreographed by Kelly Van Oosbree. Produced by Performance Now Theatre Company (presented at the Lakewood Cultural Center, 470 South Allison Parkway, Lakewood) through September 24th. Tickets available at 303-987-7845 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
If you’re in the mood for a bouncy fun-loving musical full of bright costumes and fantastical characters, have I got a show for you. And, of course, because it’s based on the Dr. Seuss books that both you and your children grew up on, it’s appropriate for everyone. I actually think the elders in the audience enjoyed the show as much – in a different way – than the grandkids they brought with them. Beneath all the clever choreography and rhyming lyrics, there was lessons to be learned for everyone old enough to suss them out. “A person’s a person, no matter how small.” “How Lucky You Are,” “Oh, the Thinks you can Think,” and never break a promise.
We naturally must have a Narrator, the one who starts and guides the story. In this case, it’s the Cat in the Hat played with impish charm by Chris Boeckx, a long way from his role as the smooth suave con artist in DIRTY ROTTEN SCOUNDRELS. Instead of gliding around the stage smoothly, he’s bouncing all over the place, popping up out of the orchestra pit, leading the fun. But he’s also the wise one who illustrates the lessons in song and action. Through his supple movements and knowing comments, we learn who is worthy and who is not to be copied. His sly looks at the audience convey more in a glance than a long speech.
The good guys line up behind Horton, the kindhearted elephant (Joshua Harris) who only wants to help . . . whoever. His efforts to help the Who’s down in Whoville are postponed while he completes a baby-sitting assignment. In step behind him is JoJo (Sarah Atkinson) and the other Whoville folk who just need help. Also in that category is Gertrude with a One Feather Tail (Sarah Forman) whose eyes are glazed over with love for Horton. She, however, thinks by improving her physical appearance with more feathers in her tail, she will get his attention. It’s only after she learns otherwise that she has a new think. She offers to hep Horton with his new responsibility – “You teach him Earth; I’ll teach him Sky.”
So, if we have good guys, it must follow that there are also some bad guys to thwart. Horton is tormented by the Wickersham Brothers (Hayes Burton, Ben Davis and Riley Holmes) who try to destroy Whoville and get Horton to leave his nest. But the really horrible no good mean villain is Mayzie played with over-the-top glee by Brekken Baker. She is such a manipulator that somehow, she makes everything she gets you to do for her seem like it was your own really good idea in the first place. It’s fun watching her from the audience maneuver everyone, but it isn’t fair or nice what she does to Horton or Gertrude – just because she has the prettiest bunch of feathers and the biggest tail.
Performance Now always puts on a good show, professionally presented with thoughtful charming sets and the best of the other stuff provided by the technical staff. The costumer Nikki Harrison outdid herself with the brightly themed costumes for the Who’s, the Bird Girls and all the other characters. The choreography, as always under the guidance of Kelly Van Oosbree, was flawless and well-rehearsed. The eight-piece orchestra lead by Heather Holt managed to carry on beautifully in spite of a certain Cat prowling around in the pit.
A WOW factor of 8.5!!