You’ll give a loud, spontaneous YOPP! after the last note of Casa’s joyful production of Seussical Jr. playing now through May 12. A fantastical conglomeration of the best-loved Seuss story lines and characters, Seussical Jr. hones down the full-length Broadway production into a fast-paced, neon ClifNotes extravaganza.
What Kids Will Like
Kudos and blessings should be heaped upon set designer Bob Lavallee and lighting designer Samuel Rushen for a recognizably Seuss-y set plush with color and all the quirky wing-dings you come to expect when you crack one of Dr. Seuss' beloved books. And, since there's almost nothing more fascinating to a child than seeing another child on stage performing, kids will be immediately drawn in by actor Tristin Thomas, a very talented youngster (isn’t there a better word?) with a pure singing voice, clear diction and accessible emotion that will suck your kids into the story from the opening notes. And oh, those notes. Of its many admirable qualities (well, I think this happens to be admirable), most of the show is sung, so any kids who happen to know and love the music already will basically know and love the show. There’s basically zero lag time. Oh and they’ll be humming the whole way home. I saw little girls doing impressions of The Sour Kangaroo (a fabulous Kia Dawn Fulton) even as they exited their aisle seats.
What Adults Will Like
Reminiscing back to the early '80s when, sitting in a patch of green shag carpet, you studied the curious shapes and sounds that define all things Seuss. If you’ve never been a Seuss fan, well, better plan a date night to the Movie Tavern instead. As usual, you’ll appreciate solid performances from the principal characters, particularly actor Major Attaway whose lovely voice and sweet vulnerability make Horton so lovable. As with most Casa shows, I left wishing I could have heard the more extended versions of the beloved songs, but that’s just my theater dork within. But you might like the flip side of that, which is that the show clips along at a quick pace and leaves time to grab ice cream with the kiddos afterwards.
Good to Know
No worries if your kids are witch/monster-averse because this is Seuss, after all, and even though the Grinch appears for a millisecond to sing a funny little line, the scariest thing in the show might be the (really cool) flashlight dance at the beginning of Act II — and that only because it’s dramatic and dark.
If your kids have had no previous exposure to Dr. Seuss (particularly “Horton Hears a Who” and “The Cat in the Hat”), you might start introducing them to all of the bizarre wonderfulness beforehand. It’s always more fun to know what’s going on and be able to pick out familiar characters, especially with such a fast-paced show where everything happens at the speed of lightning and ends before you quite knew it had begun. (Act I concludes like a freight train colliding with a red-and-white striped wall.) A fun game to play with your kids might be to pick out and name all the characters you remember from the books. Quietly, of course.
All in All
As director Jeremy Dumont observed in his audience welcome, the events of the past couple of weeks in our nation and world are still very top of mind. A show like “Seussical jr.” is the kind of hopeful, sweet, and silly celebration of life that meets us now in a particularly timely way, reminding us as only Dr. Seuss can, that “A person’s a person, no matter how small.”
Show runs through May 12. Visit casamanana.org for details and tickets.
For more from Julie, visit wetbehindtheearsblog.com.