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Seussical at Chicago Shakespeare Theatre

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Seussical at Chicago Shakespeare Theatre

Based on the works of Dr. Seuss

Book, Music and Lyrics by Stephen Flaherty and Lynn Ahrens

Directed by Scott Weinstein


Join Cat in Hat for Play on Pier

One good reason for having children is that it gives parents and grandparents an excuse for attending great performances. However, Seussical is such an outstanding production — in staging, costumes, music, and acting — that it would be a shame to limit it to small fry. Adults should not miss it. You don’t have to be accompanied by offspring, and in fact, you don’t even have to have any prior knowledge of the works of Theodor Geisel (better known as Dr. Seuss), to thoroughly enjoy the experience.


The enchantment begins with the opening when a young girl (Emily Chang) finds a red and white striped hat lying mid stage. The moment she lifts it, music pours out. It belongs, of course, to the charismatic Cat in the Hat (tall, willowy Alex Goodrich) who then leads her into the central tale of kindly Horton (George Andrew Wolff), a most sympathetic elephant (from the tale Horton Hears a Who!) who has remarkably sensitive ears. He hears a faint cry for help and discovers a miniscule, invisible world living on a dust mote. We meet three endangered inhabitants: the mayor (Aaron Holland).his wife (Erika Mac) and their daughter Jojo (Chang).


The play then centers on Horton’s perilous endeavors to protect this world from those who think it is only in his imagination — like three evil monkeys, the Wickersham brothers (Holland, Liam Quealy and Joseph Sammour) who cavort skillfully and threateningly around the stage on wheels (roller blades and skateboard). Horton is befriended by motherly Gertrude McFuzz (Lillian Castillo) who has a secret crush on him, and who is devastated by having only a one-feather tail. She would like to be as stunning and fully tail-feathered as flamboyant Mayzie La Bird (Cory Goodrich), and three other luxuriant Bird Girls (Mac, Allison Sill, and Krystal Worrell).

Strong-voiced, Sour Kangaroo (Lisa Estridge), with her baby in her pouch, and Yertle the Turtle (Goodrich) complete the splendid, energetic cast, which has interwoven elements from 14 of Seuss’s stories. Cast members are available for one-on-one conversations (autographs and photos) following each performance.

Of the 25 lively musical numbers: two especially enforce the moral of the play: “A person’s a person, no matter how small.” The song “Alone in the Universe” deals with the plight of the tiny Who World, and “Oh the Things You Can Think” stresses the importance of imagination.

Kudos to Scott Davis and Theresa Ham for vivid scenic and costume design, to Tommy Rapley for delightful choreography and to Alan Bukowiecki, director of the excellent 5-piece orchestra.

This year marks Dr. Seuss’ 110th birthday. How pleased he would be with this production! The play, echoing his wonderful books, is a magical musical: a whimsical plot line filled with danger and suspense, winsome, highly appealing characters who pull at your heart strings, and culminating with a surprising and cathartic ending — all presented in delicious song and dance — a totally charming and uplifting experience, not to be missed. Chicago Shakespeare’s summer family musicals are the best theater buy in the city!

Highly Recommended

Beverly Friend, Ph.D.

Member ATC

Chicago Shakespeare Theater on Navy Pier, 80 E. Grand Ave., (312) 595-600, Tickets $18-28. Wednesdays through Sundays, 11 a.m. and 2 p.m., through August 17. Run time 75 minutes without intermission.


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