"Seussical the Musical" is at the Ruth N. Halls Theatre of the Lee Norvelle Theatre and Drama Center. It’s by Stephen Flaherty, Lynn Ahrens and Monty Python’s Eric Idle. The show is a lovely showcase for the young talents of the new BFA in Musical Theatre at IU.
The singer/dancer/actors are mostly underclassmen with a few upperclassmen and one graduate student, the charming Mathew Buffalo, as the Cat in the Hat. It’s a talented group and even the freshmen already have extensive resumes. Director/choreographer George Pinney had welded the cast into quite an ensemble for this revue style show.
The show mixes "Horton Hears a Who" and "Horton Hatches the Egg" along with the "Butter Battle Book" and a scene from "McElligot’s Pool." I only half-jokingly like to say that I read Dr. Seuss before it was supposed to be good for me. The world of his Zoo and his egg kitchen was such a validation for a smart aleck kid with an already wild imagination and a love for words. "Seussical the Musical" is heavily into the "good for you" aspects of the Dr. Horton’s message of the value of the individual "no matter how small," is complemented with the critique of mindless militarism, and there’s the one hundred percent faithfulness of the egg sitting, but that subversive trickster Cat in the Hat —a character that any parent should worry about is there to keep things just a little off balance.
In a cast this strong it’s hard to pick favorites, but I especially enjoyed Aari Simon as the always sympathetic Horton, Laura Sweitzer as his loving neighbor Gertrude McFuzz, Jodi Alayne Bluestein as the blues belting Sour Kangaroo, Ginna Ricci as the sultry Mayzie La Bird and Quinto Ott as the scarey General Schmitz, Nicholas Sauerberg as the boy JoJo and of course Mathew Buffalo as the Cat.
Throughout the evening George Pinney’s disarmingly simple seeming but very inventive choreography and direction kept things moving. Linda Pisano’s colorful costumes spanned the rainbow and beyond. I’m willing to believe that there was some infra red and ultra violet mixed in with the usual range. Ray Fellman led the music from the keyboard with assistance from bass and drum. JoJo Percy had lighting for every occasion.
All during the show, I kept waiting for one of my favorite lines from "The Cat in the Hat." It never came, but it sums up the production so well that I have to say it. "It’s fun to have fun, but you have to know how." This production certainly knows how.
"Seussical the Musical" plays each evening this week through Saturday, show time at seven-thirty. There’s an extra matinee on Saturday at two.
You can an interview with director George Pinney on our Arts Interviews page .