Seussical the Musical opened on Broadway in 2000 and has become one of the most performed shows in America. It weaves over a dozen Dr. Seuss books into a single, fast-moving story, with a fun musical score. I had seen this show three times before watching a dress rehearsal of the El Dorado Musical Theatre production last night, and until then, I didn’t realize just how good the music was – or how good the show itself could be. In fact, I can’t imagine the Broadway production being as good as this one, because it was done with adult actors – and this present version, with young people aged 6 to 20, seems truer to the whole idea of the show.
More than that, this production by EDMT is nothing short of dazzling. There are 65 young actors in the show, and when they are all on stage for one of the large ensemble numbers, dancing and singing, it’s truly impressive. But there are so many stunning individual talents on display. The show is double-cast (I saw the Ham Cast), and the only part played by the same individual in both casts is that of Cat in the Hat. It’s a role in which Andrew Wilson is nothing short of brilliant. His acting captures the enigmatic quality of the character, but beyond the acting, his many other talents – singing, dancing, acrobatics, etc. – make him a delight to watch (and listen to). The other principal roles are also played beautifully, but I have to single out Carly Speno as Gertrude McFuzz. I’ve seen her in many roles, but the special energy she puts into this character demonstrates her extraordinary versatility.
And speaking of energy, the stage overflows with it – mostly in the extraordinary choreography. In fact, it seems that the dancing is almost continuous and always fresh. Maybe it’s my memory that is faulty, but I’d swear I saw dance moves that I’ve never seen before. Much of this is done by the small ensembles like the Bird Girls and the Wickersham Brothers, who are all an important part of the fun of this experience. And again the energy: if you have elderly friends, get them to see the show – it will add years to their lives.
Above all, this production is loaded with creativity: sets, costumes, lighting, sound effects, and ideas that I can’t even categorize. There is one surprise after another, each one a delight. The show itself is great fun, with good music and witty writing, but Director and Choreographer Debbie Wilson and her creative associates, along with these young actors, have electrified it. If you think you’ve seen Seussical the Musical before, let me assure you that you haven’t. So here’s my advice: don’t miss this production. It’s pure entertainment from beginning to end – for young and old.