by Lynn on November 23, 2016

in The Passionate Playgoer

At Young People’s Theatre, Toronto, Ont.

Book by Lynn Ahrens and Stephen Flaherty
Co-conceived by Lynn Ahrens, Stephen Flaherty and Eric Idle.
Based on the works of Dr. Seuss
Music by Stephen Flaherty
Lyrics by Lynn Ahrens
Directed by Thom Allison
Choreographed by Kimberley Rampersad
Set by Judith Bowden
Costumes by Charlotte Dean
Lighting by Jason Hand
Sound by Michael Laird
Cast: Jahlen Barnes
Eric Breen
Arinea Hermans
Mike Jackson
Jacob MacInnis
Jeigh Madjus
Robert Markus
Grace McRae
Erica Peck
Claire Rouleau
Jonathan Tan.

A gentle show about important life lessons of being, becoming and accepting who we are and accepting others in the same way.

The Story. Seussical is based on the books of Dr. Seuss. Horton the Elephant hears faint voices calling for help. He soon learns the voices are those from the tiny inhabitants of Whoville. They are on a spec of dust which is on a clover. Horton carefully holds the clover and protects it in his efforts to convince those in the Jungle of Nool of the existence of these small creatures. Horton’s mantra is of course, “A person’s a person no matter how small.” Also involved in this is a flighty, irresponsible bird who flies off for fun leaving the always responsible Horton to guard/keep warm the bird’s egg.

The Production. This is actor Thom Allison’s first effort as a director, but you would hardly know it from his assured work, guiding his production. It’s vibrant with colour, thanks to Judith Bowden’s witty set and Charlotte Dean’s bold costumes. I think it’s an added inspired move to have the ushers wear oversized white and red stripped Cat in the Hat hats. Thom Allison creates a whirlwind of activity as characters scurry here and there. But this is juxtaposed with the stillness of Horton the Elephant (a charmingly serious Jacob MacInnis). MacInnis creates a committed, concerned creature who cares for everybody, whether it’s people so small you can’t really see them, or taking care of an egg left by an irresponsible bird. The master of ceremonies of course is the Cat in the Hat—an impish Jonathan Tan.

Comment. Seussical is obviously a favourite show of Young People’s Theatre. They have done it three times: 2006, 2011 and now. It’s not hard to see why. The story is based on the beloved Dr. Seuss books. The infectious music is by Stephen Flaherty; the thoughtful lyrics are by Lynn Ahrens. And the message is one to live by: “A person’s a person, no matter how small.” Or how different or how odd-ball; or how they are treated as if they are invisible. The audiences at Young People’s Theatre are a mosaic of diversity. Each one of these young people would know instantly what the meaning of the show is and how important it is to have faith in the theme.

Lovely production. Joyful after a hard journey; characters who have conviction and ethics and those who don’t but still matter in the world.

Young People’s Theatre presents:

Opened: Nov. 17, 2016.
Closes: Dec. 31, 2016.
Cast: 11; 6 men, 5 women.
Running Time: 80 minutes.

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