Review: 'Seussical' the Musical is a Laughter Fest Infusical

By Christopher Reilly
In Culture

If the little girl sitting in front of me last night is any indication (I’m pretty sure she was from “Who-ville”), then “Seussical” at the Muny will be a tremendous smash success with the little Whos in your family, and with bright songs and wacky antics, it’s entertaining enough for their grown-up parents too.

"Seussical" at the Muny Photo by Sarah Conard

“Seussical” at the Muny
Photo by Sarah Conard

Based mostly on the Seuss classics (are there any other kind?) “Horton Hears a Who!,” “Horton Hatches the Egg” and “The One Feather Tail of Gertrude McFuzz,” this Stephen Flaherty and Lynn Ahrens musical is set in motion by that relentless mischief maker, the Cat in the Hat (played by a charismatic John Tartaglia), with the song, “Oh, The Thinks You Can Think.” Whether strutting on stage or directing mayhem in the audience—like squirting patrons with super-soakers and sending giant beach balls out into the crowd—Tartaglia makes an impressive Catster of Ceremonies.

John Tartaglia as Cat in the Hat in "Seussical." Photo by Sarah Conard

John Tartaglia as Cat in the Hat in “Seussical.”
Photo by Sarah Conard

There are a few stories running through the show. Who-ville parents (Gary Glasgow and April Strelinger) disapprove of the “thinks” their daughter JoJo thinks. Abigail Isom is excellent in the role of JoJo, and greatly impresses with her first song, “It’s Possible.” Then there’s Gertrude McFuzz—with Kirsten Wyatt giving a standout performance—who desperately tries to attract Horton the elephant by growing a few extra-long tail feathers. Then of course there’s Horton himself (portrayed in gentle fashion by Stephen Wallem), who is tricked into sitting on the egg laid by glamour girl Mayzie La Bird, played by Broadway show-stopper Julia Murney.

 "Seussical" at the Muny Photo by Sarah Conard

“Seussical” at the Muny
Photo by Sarah Conard

There’s plenty of shining moments to go around, and the Muny cast handles them nimbly, especially the exotic Bird Girls (Allison Kaye Daniel, Jessica Lea Patty and Shea Renne), who serve as a three-girl grooving chorus. Sour Kangaroo and her little girl (Liz Mikel and Chastity Jones respectively), James Anthony as General Ghenghis Kahn Schmitz, Raymond J. Lee, Blakely Slaybaugh and Omari Tau as the Wickersham Brothers, with appearances by Yertle the Turtle (Kathryn Allison) and even the Grinch (Patrick Oliver Jones), all are notable and entertaining. The Muny kids are out in full force and do a great job as usual.

Costume designer Leon Dobkowski appropriately adorns the cast in a kaleidoscope of colors and creativity, while Robert Mark Morgan’s set provides the scene and give the cast plenty of room for their tomfoolery. Director and choreographer Dan Knechtges has created an evening of magical mayhem that’s sure to be a winner with families, but these tricks are definitely for kids. Dr. Seuss would approve.

“Seussical” runs through July 28. For tickets and information visit the Muny website.

Follow Christopher Reilly on Twitter @ChristoReilly

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