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July 23, 2008 > Theater Review: Seussical the Musical

Theater Review: Seussical the Musical

By Emma Victoria G. Blanco

The musical, based on the characters and stories of Dr. Seuss, Seussical has come to Newark as Stage 1 Theater's 2008 summer production. Seussical debuted on Broadway in 2000 and boasted a score by Tony Award-winning team of Stephen Flaherty and Lynn Ahrens. It is an entertaining yet intricate mix of many of Seuss's popular books, including Horton Hears a Who!, How the Grinch Stole Christmas, The Lorax, Green Eggs and Ham, Yertle the Turtle and Other Stories, Horton Hatches the Egg, McElligot's Pool, The One Feather Tail of Miss Gertrude McFuzz , If I Ran the Circus, The Butter Battle Book, Oh, the Thinks You Can Think!, The Cat in the Hat, and Oh, the Places You'll Go!

Seussical recounts the adventures of Horton the Elephant. First he meets Jojo and the citizens of "Who," a tiny world that exists on a speck of dust. Despite being mocked by the other animals in the Jungle of Nool for believing in something he cannot see, Horton is determined that the Whos exist and he is just as determined to protect his new friends. Along the way, he encounters many obstacles: losing the speck of dust which he placed on a clover, being conned by Mayzie La Bird to sit on her egg, and being sold to the Circus McGurkus until he is freed by his friend Gertrude McFuzz. Finally, after a being found "criminally insane" at a trial presided by Judge Yertle the Turtle, Horton and Jojo are able to work together to convince everyone that the Whos really do exist.

Belinda Maloney directs an enchanting and talented group of children and teens. The show's leads are individually and collectively strong performers. Chris Waters is engaging and successfully versatile as the mischievous Cat in the Hat. Austin Weir's vocal talent shines through as Jojo. He delivers a superb Alone in the Universe duet with Emmanuel Coloma, who is captivating as Horton the Elephant. Christi Wallace (Gertrude McFuzz) and Katie O'Brien (Mayzie La Bird) lend their beautiful voices to an already commanding stage presence.

Maloney intended to impart the show's lessons - "Don't ever give up, use your imagination, your journey can take you to unexpected places, and rewards can indeed be great when you are 'Faithful, one hundred percent.'" - upon her cast of "Seussians." Thanks in part to the ubiquitous Cat in the Hat, the message was clearly conveyed to the audience as well. Throughout the show, the Cat in the Hat pops in and out of scenes as narrator and varying characters, interacting with the audience and helping its younger members to connect to the story.

If you are a fan of Dr. Seuss books or enjoy Broadway shows with great musical hooks; if you are looking for entertainment, some summer fun or just need a break from the scorching heat of the sun; if you want to be a member of an audience that was smiling from beginning to show's end, then Stage 1's Seussical is the show to see. Go take a friend!

Friday- Sunday
July 25-27
8 p.m. (2:30 p.m. matinees)

Stage 1 Theatre
(Newark Memorial High School)
39375 Cedar Blvd., Newark
(510) 791-0287

$18 General Admission, $10 High School & younger

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