Seussical Jr.

Seussical Jr.
Music by Stephen Flaherty. Lyrics by Lynn Ahrens. Book by Ahrens and Flaherty. Co-conceived by Ahrens, Flaherty, and Eric Idle. Based on the works of Dr Seuss. Pelican Productions. Norwood Concert Hall. Sepember 15-17, 2017

This reviewer is happy to confess that Mr Brown Can Moo! Can You? will always be a book he can look back on with fondness and enthusiasm – but having yet to graduate into parenthood means a general lack of children’s picture books around the home in recent years. Prior knowledge of the character Horton, and his adventures, is advised preparation before attending any production of Seussical.

The good news for those who never got beyond The Cat in the Hat or Hop on Pop is that Pelican have put together a show in which virtually anyone can find something to enjoy, whether it’s the crazily colourful decor, the consistently impressive performances, or the admirable level of energy.

Some songs here display African and Latino musical influences, which helps add variety and spark to the score, while the climax goes for a semi-sinister gospel feel that works rather well. Pre-recorded musical arrangements like those to be found here are always a little disconcerting at first, but the large and lively cast are pretty much perfectly in sync with them.

Everyone on stage collectively coped well with a misbehaving tail at one crucial point; ‘hats off’ for a strategic team effort when it was needed. Standout performers (in the ‘Green Eggs’ cast witnessed by this reviewer) include Georgia Firth, a charismatic and confident presence in the role of Mayzie La Bird (and given perhaps the most impressive of the many detailed and textured costume designs by David Lampard, Jen Frith and Kylie Green), while Tia Rodger – as Horton the Elephant - makes for a strong and pleasant central figure.

Lampard has directed, designed, and co-choreographed (with Bec Schembri) this rather challenging piece in a manner that successfully communicates the essential Seussian qualities of happiness and imagination. For a family theatre outing, it’s just what the Dr ordered.

Anthony Vawser

Photographer: Jen Frith.

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