Seussical Jr.

Musical Mixes Characters from Many Seuss Sources

Dr. Seuss has long held a monopoly on the childhood literary imagination, but the stage musical Seussical Jr. interweaves Seuss’s tales in ways that perhaps even their creator could not have conceived. As iconic characters cross into each other’s stories, Seussical forms a dazzling patchwork of Seuss’s varied worlds: A chorus of tiny workaday Whos chirps alongside a glitzy band of bird girls, the menacing Wickersham monkeys of the Jungle of Nool cavort in the courtroom of Yertle the Turtle (Mary Kate Henry), and a debonair Cat in the Hat (Reggie Evans) presides over all as narrator, plot-meddler, deus ex machina, and master orchestrator of transitions. Big Stage’s youth production infuses new vitality and vibrancy into Seuss’s familiar characters and stories, thanks to Laezer Schlomkowitz’s acting direction, Dauri Kennedy’s vocal direction, perky choreography by Jessica Hambright and Mikie Cabrera, stunningly whimsical set (Elisha Shaffer) and lighting design (Robert Salzer), and, above all, a spirited cast of kids hopelessly hooked on theater.

As girl-next-door Gertrude McFuzz, Lana Kanen disarmed the audience with her poise and stirring, crystalline vocals. Loaded with soul and sauce, Arwen Vira Marsh belted, riffed, and grooved to the crowd’s delight as the Sour Kangaroo. As the young Who hero JoJo, Tyler Dahnke stopped the show with “It’s Possible,” the central fantasist’s anthem in a musical that celebrates the thinking, dreaming, diverging individual — from JoJo, as he imagines his bathtub to be the colorful McElligot’s Pool, to Horton the Elephant (Brolin Parris), who defends the microscopic Who-niverse despite his community’s scorn, to, most importantly, each young player onstage. For that is the joy and magic of watching Seussical and all youth theater: to marvel at these rising actors as they challenge their limits, chase their passions, learn their craft, and dare to dream of Broadway.

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