As its holiday offering the New Candlelight Theatre is currently presenting Lynn Ahrens & Stephen Flaherty's, "Seussical, The Musical" through December 22nd. Though not well received originally on Broadway, this show has had a remarkable afterlife. After a successful National Tour headed by Cathy Rigby, this show has been extremely popular in regional and community theaters alike. It seems that every time you turn around, somebody is doing a production and that's good news for the authors. For let's not forget, that the team of Ahrens and Flaherty is the same lyricist/composer team who brought us the brilliant, "Ragtime". And as Billy Wilder once said, "You're as good as the best thing you've ever done". And so while this kid friendly musical has a somewhat disjointed first act, it still has delightfully melodic music, clever lyrics and a heartwarming message for us all - that doing the right and compassionate thing has its just rewards.
"Seussical" is constructed from a series of stories by Dr. Seuss (Theodore Geiser) woven around two main stories- "Horton Hears a Who" and "Horton Hatches the Egg". The first is the tale of Horton, the Elephant who discovers the existence of the microscopic Whos living on a tiny planet located on a clover blossom. Because of his enormous ears, Horton is the only one who can hear them and is ridiculed for doing so. The Whos ask Horton to protect them and he vows to do so saying, "A person's, a person not matter how small." The second tale involves the frivolous bird, Mayzie who asks Horton to sit on her egg for a little while to give her a rest. Horton consents to do so, but then the selfish Mayzie never returns, preferring to vacation in Palm Beach leaving Horton to hatch her egg.
Director Chris Alberts has cast a large ensemble of actors who sing this singer friendly score extremely well. Of particular note are David Snyder, as a very ingratiating Horton, Erica Scanlon Harr as the endearing Gertrude McFuzz, Erienne Poole as the sassy Sour Kangaroo, Victor Rodriguez as the highly comical General Schmitz/Vlad Vladikoff and Kaylan Wetzel as the saucy Mayzie LaBird. I also enjoyed Paul Weagraff< and Lindsay Mauck as Mr. & Mrs. Mayor, and Zachary Pennington as JoJo. And Zoe McLane as 'lil Roo, who appeared to be no more than four or five years old, stole all of her little scenes. Alas, though he could juggle and kind of ride a unicycle Paul Goodman was completely miscast as The Cat in the Hat.
The scenic design by Jeff Reim was right out of a Seuss book with the exact color scheme of the original illustrations. Though the costumes were appropriately bright and fun and silly, sadly they were not color keyed to Mr. Reim's terrifically spot on set.
Be prepared that the music is on tape, so you will not get the experience of a live orchestra (which to me is a major part of the excitement of a live musical.) However, I must concede that the "tapes" are fully orchestrated and well timed so that there was never a glitch with the performers.
At the afternoon matinee, patrons are fed before the show in a Buffet which runs from 1:00 to 2:30. The show then begins at 3:00. For tickets call the box office at 302-475-2313 or log onto New Candlelight's website at www.nctstage.org.
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