By River Mitchell
As soon as you walk into the doors of the Alhambra Dinner Theatre, you are immediately greeted by the Dr. Seuss experience. The play, Seussical The Musical, written by Lynn Ahrens and Stephen Flaherty, narrates the story based on Horton Hears A Who through a young boy named JoJo and the titular cat from Cat In The Hat. The play uses elements and characters from various Dr. Seuss stories and combines them into a interconnected work.
Seussical The Musical begins with a lone hat lying in the middle of the stage. The young boy, who is later revealed to be named JoJo, is played by Oliver Rumney, a student of Douglas Anderson School of the Arts, picks up the hat and The Cat In The Hat, played by Benjamin Smith, appears and decides to show the boy wonderful things. They go to the jungle and it shows Horton The Elephant, played by new DASOTA Theatre Department Chair Kevin Covert, hearing a tiny voice coming from a speck, which lands on a small clover. He continues to listen and is criticized and mocked by other inhabitants of the jungle for appearing to talk to a clover.
We are then introduced to the Whos and they are the people living on the clover, and are about to go to war. The Cat gets JoJo in trouble and he is sent to military school. A group of monkeys steal Horton’s clover and hide it in a massive field of clovers. While searching for the Whos, Horton is convinced by a bird named Mayzie to sit on her egg while she goes on vacation, leading to Horton being captured and sent to the circus. Another bird named Gertrude, played by Lindsay Sutton, finds Horton and frees him from the circus and gives him the clover the Whos are in.
Unfortunately, the people of the jungle realize this and plan to boil the clover. JoJo and the other Whos cry out for help and the inhabitants of the jungle hear this and give Horton his clover back. Then, Mayzies’ egg hatches and it reveals an elephant – bird hybrid, which Horton and Gertrude agree to raise, as Mayzie did not want the egg back.
The stage on which the play is performed on is brightly colored and is covered in multi-colored rainbow stripes. They managed to tell the plays story with a minimalist set of stage pieces and props. It didn’t require a lot of moving pieces, so it wasn’t difficult for the actors to perform the play with the props that they had. They changed a handful of props for each switch between the jungle, Whoville and a circus scene, but otherwise the overall background remained unchanged for most of the play. The outfits the cast wore signified the animal (or Who) they were playing and it was easy to identify them with whatever animal they were portraying. They each wore accessories to show what animal they were playing, like the Whos have crazy hair and pointed ears and most of the birds wear boas for feathers.
The various characters in Seussical The Musical were played by a small but vastly efficient cast. Each member of the cast had a background in musical theatre, so they were able to perform the play with very few slip- ups. While the acting was good for most of the play, during the beginning it seemed kind of flashy, for the first few moments of the play I felt as it was a bit over-kill for me. But as the play progressed, the dialogue and interactions looked more natural than it was at the beginning.
The audience seemed to enjoy this play very much. Kids laughed at the actors’ jokes and dances. We complimented the costumes and set and I even heard adults laugh at some of the plays’ jokes. The play, all-in all, was a very memorable time for audiences young and old and a great way to experience the magic of Dr. Seuss.
River Mitchell is the 12 year old son of EU feature music writer Liza Mitchell and attends Fletcher Middle School.