by Lynn on November 10, 2011

in The Passionate Playgoer

At Young People’s Theatre. Book by Lynn Ahrens and Stephen Flaherty. Music by Stephen Flaherty. Lyrics by Lynn Ahrens. Based on the works of Dr. Seuss. Directed by Allen MacInnis. Choregraphed by Nicole Pantin. Designed by Judith Bowden. Lighting by Kimberly Purtell. Musical director, Diane Leah. Starring: Damien Atkins, George Masswohl, Sharron Matthews, Jennifer Villaverde.

Presented by Young People’s Theatre until Dec. 30.

This is a shortened version of SEUSSICAL, the sweet Broadway musical. But never fear, this shortened version does not lose any of the charm or poignancy of the original. It still deals with such lovable Dr. Seuss characters as The Cat in the Hat, the narrator of the show, Horton the Elephant, Jojo, a diminutive citizen of the tiny planet of Who and all the other characters who make this such a gentle reminder of how decent creatures should treat each other.

Horton the elephant, big, lumbering, caring, decent and a creature of his word, hears a faint cry for help. He realizes the sound is coming from a small speck of dust. The person in trouble must be on the speck. It’s a person named Jojo who is so small as to be invisible. She is from the tiny planet of Who. Horton agrees to protect them by placing the speck on a very soft clover. Because as Dr. Seuss says through Horton, and repeated in Lynn Ahrens’ lyrics, “A person’s a person, no matter how small.”

As if this responsibility isn’t enough Maizie wants Horton to sit on her egg and keep it warm for just a few hours while she goes out to tend to some chores. He hesitates at first—he’s very big and the egg is very small and fragile. But he does agree, and carefully sits on the egg, assuming it will be for a few hours.

Several months later, he’s still sitting there. Maizie has decided to fly off and have a good time wherever. If Maizie was a person we would call her a floozy. But she’s a bird so we will just call her flighty.

Horton has other adventures as well: not being believed by his jungle friends regarding the tiny Whos; a court case in which he has to prove the Whos really exist; The threat of being crated off to the zoo. This being Dr. Seuss we know it will work out fine. We will learn a lesson about nay-sayers too eager not to believe and creatures who are responsible and dependable no matter how big or small.

Director Allen MacInnis has envisioned a world of whimsical, sweet characters, who can also be a bit difficult. He directs with scrupulous honesty and care. As Horton, George Masswohl is a wide-eyed and serious. Horton never waivers from his promise to take care of the Whos and that commitment and tenacity is all over this wonderful performance. As The Cat in the Hat, Damien Atkins is a bean-pole of impish charm. And as flighty Maizie, Sharron Matthews is all flounce and disarming exasperation as she flits around, ignoring her egg-sitting duties, leaving that to dependable Horton. Judith Bowden’s costumes and set are a riot of colour and smile-inducing invention.

SEUSSICAL is a joyous, sweet gift for the holidays for all persons, no matter how small (well, I think I would draw the line at babies).

Leave a Comment

Respectful comments are accepted on this site as long as they are accompanied by a verifiable name and a verifiable e-mail address. Posts that are slanderous, libelous or personally derogatory will not be approved.