Arts & Culture

Stage: Fanciful 'Seussical'

The colorful cast of Kelrik Productions’ ‘Seussical: The Musical.’
The colorful cast of Kelrik Productions’ ‘Seussical: The Musical.’ COURTESY OF KELRIK PRODUCTIONS

Seussical: The Musical” is a perfect

fit for Kelrik Productions’ creative team. The fanciful characters from Dr. Seuss books come to life against a Day- Glo jungle right out of a Seuss illustration. I always thought “Seussical” was a noun, a combination of Seuss and musical, but this show turns it into an adjective, with Seussical costumes, Seussical sets and Seussical spirit. As one song says, It’s “the thing you can think when you think of Seuss.”

Kelrik Productions has mastered the art of creating family-friendly shows that feature fine adult actors and aspiring children. This one is appropriate for all ages.

The story unites characters from various familiar Seuss books in a tale about Horton the elephant as he tries to save the Whos, tiny people from a planet so small it fits on a clover blossom, and as he ends up in a tree baby-sitting an errant bird mother’s egg. As he puts it, he’s “caught between a dust speck and an incubating egg.”

The impossible stories are told mostly in songs — rhyming, of course — and dancing by the large cast and ensemble, which packs the small stage with color and energy. The costumes are imaginative, and members of the ensemble wear psychedelic-colored wigs.

Matt Ambrose plays Horton the elephant with sweet sincerity as the other creatures in the Jungle of Nool think he’s crazy for believing in the miniscule Whos. Mya Paredes, a talented 11-year-old, plays Jojo, the imaginative Who scolded by her parents for thinking too much. She has a voice and presence that belie her age.

Director Erik Austin is in fine form as The Cat in the Hat, who pops in and out. He’s also funny as other briefly appearing characters.

Mayzie LaBird, the flamboyantly feathered friend who cons Horton into egg-sitting, is played to the hilt by Ashley Moses, an adult player with comic flair. Kelly Barrett, a young talent often seen on area stages, is cute as the less well-endowed Gertrude McFuzz, a bird who undergoes cosmetic surgery in an effort to attract Horton’s attention.

Lacey McNamara is good as the Sour Kangaroo who gets Horton in trouble. She is accompanied by a hand-puppet baby roo. The Wickersham Bros., a pair of monkeys up to monkey business, are played wildly by Chris Dixon and Ryan Vasquez, costumed as goth rockers.

Randy Pound, who seems to find a role in nearly every show on the Central Coast, uses his comic talents as the mayor of Who, and Debora Schwartz plays his wife.

The 15-member ensemble is made up of singers and dancers of all ages who have as much fun as the audience. There are more than 25 songs in a variety of styles embellishing the story.

Horton’s tale does have some Seusslike messages. His determination to save the Whos is accompanied by his insistence that “a person’s a person, no matter how small.” And Jojo’s independent thinking, although often unconventional, eventually saves her planet.

“Seussical” was an impressive production when performed by PCPA Theaterfest0, but it has a much different flavor in the intimate theater at Unity (sold out and filled with kids on Sunday afternoon). The action is up close and personal, and the excitement on-stage spills over into the audience. It’s a happy story, and you’ll go out smiling.

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