Carousel Theatre’s current remount of Seussical, the stage musical adapted from the much-loved kids’ books of Dr. Seuss, has a lot in common with its original 2007 production. Once again, Carole Higgins directs, Melissa Young choreographs, and Steven Greenfield provides the musical direction. Alison Green’s beautiful pastel-painted sets again grace the stage, Barbara Clayden’s delightful costumes and wigs are back, as are Itai Erdal’s excellent lighting effects and Heidi Wilkinson’s clever, adorable puppets.
The cast of eleven and the two piano players (Patrick N. Ray and Masae Day) are different, but the response of the kids (ages 3+) in the audience at the matinee I attended was pretty much the same—they loved it.
Once again, the Cat in the Hat (Anton Lipovetsky) tells us kids how Horton the Elephant (Greg Armstrong-Morris) heard JoJo the Who (Nathan Piasecki) on a speck of dust inside a pink flower. Trying to save the tiny invisible Whos, Horton is mercilessly mocked by the animals in the Jungle of Nool—the Sour Kangaroo (Meghan Anderssen) with her funny-looking baby in her pouch, Zebra (Melissa Oei) and Impala (Amanda Testini), and the Wickersham brother monkeys (Timothy E. Brummond, Lucas Testini, Troy McLaughlin)—all but Gertrude McFuzz (Kayla Dunbar), the modest bird trying to grow her tail, who has a crush on Horton. Things get more complicated when Mayzie La Bird (Lauren Bowler), a brightly plumed floozy, leaves her egg for faithful Horton to hatch.
It takes a while for the kids to engage, partly because the unmiked actors—particularly Jojo—are a little hard to hear. But they quickly catch on, and pretty soon everyone has their favourite. I listened to a couple of parents ask their kids who they liked best. The Cat in the Hat took their vote. Lipovetsky has a really sweet face, though not much of a voice. Armstrong-Morris has a very nice voice and his Horton is lovable but not terribly funny.
My favourites are the birds, Mayzie and especially Gertrude. Bowler’s Mayzie has star-power. Dunbar’s Gertrude is a heartbreaker and sings like a dream. I hope that she and Horton and their adopted elephant-bird baby have a long and happy life together.
A holiday treat for even the littlest kids, Seussical will keep the parents entertained, too.