Seussical is surprisingly enjoyable
Theodor Seuss Geisel, aka. Dr. Seuss, has a reputation for his rhyming stories, his crazy cartoons and sometimes for the political messages in his books. But mostly, Dr. Seuss is equated with The Cat in the Hat, an enchanting character that taught kids how to read.
In Seussical – The Musical, The Cat in the Hat is the central figure who leads a child into an adventure into a land of imagination.
This is not the first time The Cat in the Hat has been used to draw in audiences. Universal Studios created its own Cat in the Hat ride, and now it’s releasing a Cat in the Hat movie, which will star Mike Myers.
Seussical, directed by Christopher Ashley (who also did the Broadway revival of the Rocky Horror Show), premiered on Broadway in 2001, but did not last long. The reason why remains a mystery.
The production touring the country is a phenomenal mixture of many popular stories authored by Dr. Seuss. It really is entertaining for the whole family, and even those who may not necessarily be familiar with Seuss’ stories.
The show combines interesting lighting effects with movie-like scene endings and audience interaction. Cathy Rigby, who previously starred in Peter Pan on Broadway, is now The Cat in the Hat, the main character who propels the story. The Cat encounters JoJo (Shadoe Brandt), a young boy who loves to daydream, and together, they find new “thinks they can think.”
JoJo and The Cat venture into the Jungle of Nool, where Horton the Elephant (Eric Leviton) hears voices from tiny people, invisible to the eye. The other citizens of the jungle think he is crazy, but the audience soon finds out he is not — it’s just the Whos on their tiniest planet in the sky.
While the plot cleverly combines about a dozen or more Dr. Seuss stories, it is overshadowed by the amazing production of the play. It includes everything from large, cut-out sets of fluorescent fish to a backlit sky made of thousands of shimmering light bulbs to The Cat and JoJo soaring through the air.
The entire story is cleverly arranged to a well-written score that meshes the rhythms of pop, blues, R&B, latino and ballads. It’s versatile, it fits the story and it keeps the audience entertained. The lyrics are clever, and as is typical of Dr. Seuss, rhyme well and remain in the viewer’s mind. Only a few times, during the slow numbers, does the show drag a bit. The rest is pure entertainment.
Rigby does an outstanding job, not only as an actress, but as an entertainer as well. She supercedes her part of being solely an actor and ventures into the realm of stand-up. She jokes with the audience