‘Oh the thinks you can think … when you think about Seuss!’
By Heidi Sutton
Families with young children packed into the Engeman Theater last Saturday morning to witness a most beautiful tribute to the imaginative world of Theodor Seuss Geisel aka Dr. Seuss in Seussical the Musical. The children book author’s favorite characters come to life in this colorful and magical show, including Horton the Elephant, The Cat in the Hat, Gertrude McFuzz, Mayzie La Bird and JoJo, a little boy with a big imagination.
Written in 2000 by Tony winners Lynn Ahrens and Stephen Flaherty, the musical is now one of the most performed shows in the United States and it’s easy to see why. A trip down memory lane for many generations, it is based primarily on the Dr. Seuss children books, “Horton Hears a Who,” “Horton Hatches an Egg” and “Gertrude McFuzz,” but also incorporates references to other Dr. Seuss stories including “McElligot’s Pool” and “Oh the Thinks You Can Think!”
Directed by Andrew McCluskey with choreography by Jillian Sharpe, the colorful cast of characters transport the audience from the Jungle of Nool to the Circus McGurkus to the invisible world of the Whos. The Cat in the Hat (Jae Hughes) guides us through the magical journey with the help of Jojo the Mayor’s son (Finn Brown at last Saturday’s performance), who occasionally jumps into the scene when warranted.
The show opens as Horton the Elephant (Patrick McCowen) hears a cry for help and discovers a floating speck of dust containing the town of Whoville. After safely placing it on a clover flower, Horton is tricked into sitting on lazy Mayzie La Bird’s (Jillian Sharpe) egg for 51 weeks, is captured by hunters and eventually sold to the circus. When he is finally rescued by Gertrude McFuzz (Michaela Vivona), he is put on trial by Sour Kangaroo (Suzanne Mason) for “sitting on an egg and talking to a speck.” Will the faithful pachyderm be exonerated or will he be sentenced to a mental institution by Judge Yertle the Turtle?
The fast-paced show keeps the young audience wide-eyed and on the edge of their seats. One of the most exciting scenes is when the Wickersham Brothers (Justin Autz and Terrence Sheldon) steal the clover and are chased through the theater by Horton. The dance numbers are terrific with special props and audience participation is encouraged as Horton and Mayzie’s egg are auctioned off to the highest bidder.
The incredible songs are the heart of the show, from the fun intro “Oh, The Thinks You Can Think!” to the sweet “Horton Hears a Who” (where a person’s a person no matter how small), the enduring “Notice Me Horton,” and a personal favorite, “It’s Possible.” Horton and Jojo’s duet, “Alone in the Universe,” will give you goosebumps and the group’s upbeat finale is a fitting rendition of “Green Eggs and Ham.”
Costumes and wigs by Laura McGauley along with the cartoonish set mimic the original Seuss illustrations perfectly.
In the end, the show leaves us with the inspiring message that anything is possible when you let your imagination fly. Don’t miss this one.
Pick up a clover-shaped flashlight souvenir before the show and stay after for a meet and greet with the cast in the lobby for photos and autographs. An autograph page is conveniently located at the back of the program.
The John W. Engeman Theater, 250 Main St., Northport presents Seussical the Musical on Saturdays at 11 a.m. and Sundays at 10:30 a.m. through April 30 with a special sensory sensitive performance on April 15. Up next is The Musical Adventures of Flat Stanley from May 27 to July 2. All seats are $20. To order, call 631-261-2900 or visit www.engemantheater.com.