Based on the fantastical imaginings of Dr. Seuss, Seussical is a light-hearted musical packed with color, magic, and mischief. McLean Community Players is running their production of this family-friendly show during the weekends of July at Alden Theatre.
With Book by Lynn Ahrens and Stephen Flaherty, Music also by Flaherty, and Lyrics by Ahrens, Seussical casts a wide net into the many books of Dr. Seuss and brings the characters together in one story: Horton the Elephant, Gertrude McFuzz, The Grinch, Yertle the Turtle, and (of course) the Cat in the Hat.
The story mostly follows Horton Hears a Who, as Horton (Keith Tittermary) finds his tiny friends on a dust speck and tries to protect them, despite harassment and jeering from the other residents of the Jungle of Nool, most notably the Sour Kangaroo (Melissa Volkert) and the deviant Wickersham Brothers (Mitchell Burdett, Luke Jackins, and Cam Sammartano).
The Cat in the Hat, played by Jennifer Soraya Rose, serves as a narrator of sorts, while also joining in the action to play other tertiary characters. Rose does an impressive job as the conniving cat and keeps the energy and pacing of the show at a good clip.
Another main character is Jojo (Ziva Greenblum), the misunderstood kid from Whoville who’s constant “thinking” gets him into trouble. Greenblum has a great presence on stage and a strong voice. She sings quite often in the show but one of her featured songs, “It’s Possible,” is a lovely standout that highlights the hope and positivity that is so very Seussian.
Leslie Lewis plays the shy Gertrude McFuzz, who laments over her single feathered tail and crushes on the equally soft-spoken Horton. Tittermary and Lewis are an adorable pairing, and both make their characters the endearing underdogs that everyone roots for. Lewis sings the lovely “Notice Me Horton” as she pines for the Elephant’s attention.
But Horton is distracted by his concern for the Whos and because he is a kind-hearted soul who wants to be helpful, is also now caring for the unhatched egg of Mayzie LaBird (Karen Toth), who has abandoned her nest to go on vacation.
The interweaving of all the Seuss characters brings in characters from Green Eggs & Ham, Yertle the Turtle, and The Circus McGurkus, just to name a few. All of those stories are filled with vibrant illustrations and Costumer Designer Juliana Cofrancesco, along with Hair and Make-up Designers Luke Jackins and Cam Sammartano, does not disappoint with their real-life creations. Most notably the Bird Girls (Courtney James, Lindsey McClenathan, and Rosemarie O’Connor), the bright, beautiful, and bold back-up girls that appear throughout the story with their feather plumes and on-point harmonies.
The musical has many songs and the ensemble sounds beautiful, under the guidance of Musical Directors Lori Roddy and Matthew Scarborough. Rose’s Cat in the Hat leads the Company in “Oh, the Thinks You Can Think” which opens and closes the show, and illustrates the main through-line of the musical, which focuses on opening your mind and heart to the world and not closing off from the unknown.
My only criticism of the production would be that of the mic levels. There were some actors who could barely be heard, while other’s voices dominated the group. But that is a fixable glitch and did not take away from the overall show.
McLean Community Players is a community run organization and the people of McLean clearly showed their support and pride in having the theater group represent their area. Seussical is a great show for families with young children and kids-at-heart looking to see stories from their childhood live on stage.
Running Time: Two hours, with one 15-minute intermission