Theatre Review: Seussical the Musical @ Arts Theatre

Photo supplied by Phillip Rowntree and Sell A Door Theatre Company

Fans of the children’s book series Dr Seuss will be thrilled to see the show Seussical the Musical playing in the West End. Adapted by Greenwich-based Sell A Door Theatre Company, this staged production is in line with Off Broadway’s latest rendition — it’s written and created by Tony-award winning Lynn Ahrens and Stephen Flaherty, co-conceived by Monty Python’s Eric Idle and maintains a shorter and snappier story-line than the original version that debuted on Broadway in 2000.

The plot centres around Horton the Elephant and his attempt to protect the wild and wacky miniature people of Whoville, who naturally live on a tiny speck of dust. While beating down baddies including the thug-like Wickersham brothers and their counterpart, the evil eagle Vlad Vladikoff, Horton becomes side-tracked and is made responsible for an egg belonging to the disparate Mayzie LaBird. Poor old Horton doesn’t know which way to look — his responsibilities are stacking up, yet he isn’t managing to help out anyone. But luck is on his side when his loyal friend Gertrude McFuzz flies (literally) to his rescue, helping him find safety for The Whos and freeing him from egg-duty by agreeing to help raise the now hatched eagle bird.

The zany narrative is taken from an amalgamation of Dr Seuss books, most prominently Horton Hears a Who!. Equally bombastic song and dance sequences fill the 85 minutes with infectious energy: one can’t help singing along to lyrics such as ‘Oh the Thinks You Can Think’, ‘It’s Possible’ and the popular ‘Green Eggs and Ham’ that involves all of the colourful cast including kangaroos, jungle characters, bird girls and of course The Whos cavorting around the stage.

And while the show screams out fantastical fun, the story is admittedly still tricky to follow. If an adult thinks this, what might a young child be thinking? Probably irrelevant, as the children were eagerly jumping and signing along to each of the performances. David Hunter, a finalist on ITV’s Superstar, superbly plays Horton, endearing the audience to cheer him along his journey. Costume and set design are also impressive, giving the small theatre an added burst of life.

Above all, this production is festive fun (just minus a few reindeers and elves). Leave it to Dr Seuss to add a touch of holiday cheer to your Christmas this season.

Seussical the Musical is at The Arts Theatre through 6 January (no shows 24-26 December).  Start times are 10.30am and 1.00pm, tickets £17.50 each (group discounts available). For more information, read more.

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