The entire stage floor is painted in bright swishes of color, so one practically dances to one’s assigned seat at Littleton’s Town Hall Arts Center (scenic design by Michael Duran) to await the appearance of Cat in the Hat, Horton Gertrude McFuzz, the Whos and other characters we know and love.
“Seussical,” the musical by Lynn Ahrens and Stephen Flaherty (co-conceived by that pair with help from Monty Python’s Eric Idle), is the Littleton theater’s choice for the holidays — directed with a tongue firmly in cheek by Robert Wells and perfect for family outings. (Or for grandparents, out on their own!) We are told that Wells wisely chose the short version, so run time is about 90 minutes, including intermission.
A familiarly shaped red and white striped lampshade hangs on a suspended light fixture at center stage. Music begins and in strides the versatile Charlie Schmidt, who pops on that hat and becomes the whimsical Cat in the Hat (as well as a number of other central characters sporting the same red and white striped socks.)
Horton the Elephant (Brian Murray) appears, concerned about a faint cry for help that’s coming from a flower — a tiny voice from a creature “no bigger than a speck of dust.” (A pitch for tolerance blends in here.)
He is joined by JoJo, the young Who “no bigger than a speck of dust,” in singing the trademark concept of Dr Seuss: “Oh the Thinks You Can Think!”
Jo Jo (Lars Lundberg) and the entire Who family, wear a bright yellow wigs and individual costumes that are a variation on clever patterns with yellow, green and turquoise. All the actors’ costumes, designed by Terri Fong, with neon-colored wigs and fancy details, are really outstanding — eye candy in addition to the “ear candy” of the score and script. The timid Who parents worry that JoJo thinks too much!
Music director Donna Debreceni orchestrated and recorded the bouncy score and choreographer Kelly Kates created dance moves for all — from wee Whos to a loud trio of spangled birds, to a bumbling elephant — and of course, that nimble Cat, who weaves it all together.
Sour Kangaroo (Cassie Lujan, who can really belt out a song), the Wickersham Brothers and a gang of rude monkeys all introduce a naughty/negative note, while Gertrude McFuzz, with her single tail feather, introduces another concept to think about — be careful what you wish for.
Mayzie La Bird (Alison Vance), a vain, self-centered sparkly bright blue creature with plentiful tail feathers, leads a trio of tropical feathered individuals, who mock poor Horton.
Mayzie even leaves her egg for him to hatch while she splits for sunny climes — and he patiently sits and sits …
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