‘Seussical’ gives kids a reason to clap
Come to see the Egyptian Theatre Company’s production of "Seussical the Musical," and the first thing you’ll likely notice is the color. Giant red and white wooden hats bracket the stage, while the backdrops embrace the rainbow, from purple, blue and green hills to orange, yellow, red and blue buildings.
The characters appear just as colorfully, with pink, yellow, orange and blue birds, and Whos dressed in all sorts of shades. All in all, play’s Technicolor hues jump from the stage, making both the actors and the setting seem just a little bit brighter in the dark theatre.
"Seussical" is the Egyptian’s family-friendly holiday production. While the theatre company’s other 2005 productions "Jesus Christ Superstar" and "La Cage aux Folles" offered edgy storylines and provocative characters, the current play focuses on the works of Theodor "Dr. Seuss" Geisel and offers a tale that any astute six-year-old should easily grasp.
Directed by Jim Christian, who last directed "Beehive" and "Pageant" for the theatre company, "Seussical" comes to life as the theatrical embodiment of Dr. Seuss’s books. To do so, it follows one of the author’s more popular stories.
Told entirely in song and verse, and narrated by The Cat in the Hat, the musical follows the story of Horton the Elephant as he discovers and befriends the Whos, a tiny race of people living on a speck of dust. Horton commits himself to protect the Whos with the help of his avian admirer Gertrude McFuzz, and together their pair endure the abuse that comes with supporting a cause unseen by all and unheard my most.
Over the course of the play, Horton faces stringent opposition from sour Kangaroo and the birds and monkeys in the surrounding forest. Unable to hear the Whos, and believing Horton is crazy, they wrestle Whoville away from Horton leaving him searching for the small but inhabited speck of dust.
At the same time, Horton also takes responsibility for an egg given up by a dead-beat mother bird, cementing his status as an outcast in the animal word.
Meanwhile, the Whos, led by The Mayor of Whoville and his wife, and must deal with a series of calamities, some caused by the animals working against Horton, and some caused by their own machinations. The Who community must also deal with its own outcast, JoJo, the son of The Mayor, who, because of his "thinks," finds himself separated from the rest of his fellow Whos and in a socially ostracized position very similar to Horton’s.
Along the way, a number of characters and stories from Seuss’s books including Yertle the Turtle, the Butter-Side Battlers and a few others make brief appearances.
The cast, led by Aaron DeJesus as The Cat in the Hat and Egyptian veteran Kenneth Wayne as Horton, gives a sharp performance, delivering their lines of rhyme without a vocal trip.
Wayne, in his third Egyptian performance in 2005, plays the humble, responsible Horton spot-on, and his stage-mate, Park City High School graduate Ali Bennett, playing Gertrude McFuzz, delivers a similarly impressive performance as a persistent bird. In a smaller role, another PCHS grad, Brittany Taylor Klintworth, stands out as Sour Kangaroo, singing the role with considerable power and notable panache.
Overall, with its colors, rhymes, catchy songs and diverse characters, "Seussical" offers a package most kids will appreciate, and like Seuss’s stories, the play’s storyline follows a path most children can follow. At the same time, the songs and the dialog contain enough nuances, and the plot enough intrigue, that most adults should stay interested.
Talking to The Park Record, Christian noted that as a child he was a virtual connoisseur of Seuss, so starting out, he knew his material. That knowledge shows on the stage, as the characters follow their paper-bound counterparts as closely as the play will allow. So, any fans of the author’s work would likely find a few laughs and a new perspective in the Egyptian play.
The production is something to see and something to hear as well. "Seussical" offers a whole range of colors from its characters and rhymes to its settings and songs. The play can be a complement to almost any Park City evening.
The Egyptian Theatre Company’s production of "Seussical the Musical" runs most nights through Dec. 31. Tickets range from $12 to $32. For tickets or more information, visit http://www.parkcityshows.com or call 649-9371.
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