Seussical at the Arts Theatre
Seussical is a mixture of many of Dr Seuss’ stories – including The Cat in the Hat, Horton Hears a Who, Green Eggs and Ham, and Oh the Thinks You Can Think – rolled into one big musical production. It premiered in the West End a year ago at the Arts Theatre, now it has returned for the Christmas season. It’s a perfect evening out for children – and their parents – during the Christmas holidays.
The creatures from Dr Seuss’ books are bizarre and fantastical, so transforming them into live action characters is no easy task. But on stage the quirky, colourful and instantly recognisable illustrations become something new, with the help of simple and clever costumes, make-up and strong performances. Kirk Jameson’s direction and Racky Plews’ choreography are brilliantly executed; there is always a great deal happening onstage, the production constantly dynamic and energetic.
For the cast there is the difficulty of acting, singing and maintaining the exuberance that performing for young audiences requires, but they all do a really good job. Jordan Veloso is particularly endearing as JoJo who keeps getting lost in his imagination, to the irritation of his parents. Some of the most impressive performances come from the Wickersham Brothers (Alastair Crosswell, Thomas Lloyd and Benjamin Vivian-Jones), a trio of mischievous monkeys who mock Horton for looking after his speck of dust. Not only is their ensemble singing perfect, but amid their mad, ape-like jumping around on stage is some complex choreography that they perform excellently, completely in sync with one another.
Abandon cynicism all you who take your children to Seussical – predictable rhymes, relentlessly cheery music and vibrant colours abound. But the production knows what it’s doing. There is complexity in some places, like the carefully worked-out dances, and a brilliant simplicity in others – especially the important messages for the audience with catchy tunes. When towards the end one audience member (presumably a child) starts singing along to “a person’s a person no matter how small”, it is easy to see that the production has done exactly what it set out to do: to give the young audience a fantastical, fun-filled evening.
Seussical is at the Arts Theatre until 5th January 2014. For further information or to book visit the theatre’s website here.