Monday, December 15, 2008

Carousel Theatre's Seussical is a Real Treat For Young & Young at Heart

Left: Gertrude McFuzz (Alison MacDonald) and The Cat in the Hat (Jeremy Lowe) battle it out in Carousel Theatre's SEUSSICAL: THE MUSICAL. Photo by Tim Matheson

Working full time in theatre means that it is rare for me to have to the time to make it out to see the work that other companies are doing, even if I want to. Last year, when Carousel Theatre staged Seussical: The Musical I wanted to attend, but being in the midst of my own work I couldn't seem to make the time. And I regretted it each time I thought about it (or was told how great it was).

When I first hear that they were doing a remount this year, I told myself that I had to make sure to go, but I kept putting it off. Luckily for me, my roommate kicked my butt into gear with a glowing review of the show, and I quickly bought myself a ticket for the only performance that fit within my show schedule. I am so glad that I did.

I arrived at the theatre and the first thing I saw was a pair of small children - aged three and five - who were asking their grandmother how many minutes it would be until the play started. Every minute. (For those who are suggesting that theatre audiences are dying off [literally!], I would say that these children are the future and we need to do whatever we can to keep them that excited to see a play.)

I took great pleasure in eavesdropping on the children sitting around me as I thumbed through my program. The excitement in their voices as they slowly noticed things on the set & the sense of wonder at what they were about to see:

"Look Nana - did you see the flowers along the front of the stage?! I bet they're the clovers!"
"I see the hat! The hat for the cat in the hat! I see it! Do you?!"

"There's smoke in front of that light. That's cuz someone is smoking in the theatre, but I don't see them." (Really it was a hazer, but hey - the kid's quite observant.)
As the houselights dimmed, the room buzzed with excitement. And I found myself wishing I'd had the same opportunities as a kid to see professional theatre. (Though I thought the local high school was AMAZING & looked forward to each production they did that allowed kids to attend.)

For those who don't know what Seussical is about, the program describes it like this:

Our Master of Ceremonies, The Cat in the Hat, pops up and narrates our story from every which way! The play follows Horton the Elephant as he begins a quest to save the people of Whoville, who happen to live on a tiny speck of dust that is floating uncontrollably through the air! Horton befriends and protects the tiny Whos on a clover, even though his Jungle of Nool neighbours think he's crazy. Even more trouble arises when Horton is given an unexpected task - the biggest task of all!

The cast, which includes Allan Zinyk as Horton the Elephant, Alison MacDonald as Gertrude McFuzz, Jeremy Lowe as The Cat in the Hat, and 10 year old Brian Riback as JoJo (a who-boy who thinks really big thinks!), was fantastic. In the large opening number"Oh The Thinks You Can Think" as they all sang and danced, I knew I was going to enjoy myself becuase I was in good hands.

One of the things that I loved about the production were the costumes for the animals in the Jungle of Nool. Rather than trying to create realistic animal costumes, designer Barbara Clayden uses slightly altered modern clothing to give us a feel for the animals. For example, Sour Kangaroo's ears are created by the way a bandanna was tied on her head & Horton's elephant ears are the flaps on his toque.

My favourite moment in the play was when Horton the Elephant and JoJo sing their duet, Alone in the Universe. They each discover a friend for the first time & the stars in the sky twinkle. And boy, can they both sing!

I won't give away the ending, but suffice to say, Seussical is a feel good treat for the whole family, especially children, or children at heart.

Seussical: The Musical runs at the Waterfront Theatre until January 3. Tickets at or by phone at 604-685-6217.

Right: Horton hears the Whos! (The Company).
Photo by Tim Matheson

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