The Manatee Players’ funny and touching production is not just for kids.
By Kay Kipling
“Oh, the thinks you can think,” says Dr. Seuss’s Cat in the Hat to an imaginative boy named Jojo. And oh, the fun you can have with the Manatee Players’ production of Seussical the Musical, the lively, entertaining and sometimes touching adaptation of some of Seuss’s best-known stories by Stephen Flaherty, Lynn Ahrens and Eric Idle.
Don’t make the mistake of thinking that Seussical will be too kiddish for you. While the story is elementary, the emotions of the characters involved, and the messages they impart, have more depth than you might think.
It all starts when the Cat in the Hat (Chip Fisher, eminently followable every step of the way) pops up in the bedroom of that clever Jojo (Leo Chappell) and whisks him away to the Jungle of Nool, where Horton the Elephant (Ken Basque) is the only animal who can hear the plaintive cries emanating from a speck of dust. Despite the taunting of his jungle mates, Horton is determined to find out who’s in trouble and to help them out, “Because a person’s a person, no matter how small.”
In this case, the persons are from Whoville, the center of that holiday feast with the Grinch every year. But all is not well in Whoville; war threatens (remember that famous butter side up, butter side down controversy?), and Horton is stuck with solving their problems while at the same time minding an irresponsible bird’s egg and figuring out (eventually) his own relationship with Gertrude McFuzz (Caitlin Longstreet), a bird whose lament is that she has only one tail feather.
Director-choreographerBob Trisolini has an especially well-suited cast for this production; while Fisher carries the ball much of the way (and is a natural at both switching gears swiftly and handling audience interactive bits), virtually everyone in the show has a chance to shine at some point. And Trisolini’s choreography matches the Seussical form of whimsy, whether it’s the monkey moves of the jungle’s Wickersham Brothers or the fractured marching of military leader General Genghis Khan Schmitz. Colorful costumes and props likewise help us to enter the fanciful world of the Seuss books, without any fuss of moving sets around.
So grab the kids, the grandkids—or just go yourself, with a friend—and see Seussical the Musical before it closes on Dec. 23. For tickets, call 748-5875.