Seussical – Arts Theatre

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Shekinah Mcfarlane in Seussical at the Arts Theatre, London

Seussical continues at the the Arts Theatre, London until 5 January 2014.

After Sell a Door’s success with its production of Seussical last year, the company has brought this theatre for young audiences version back to the West End (albeit with some different creative talent onboard) and the result is both fast and fun.

The musical, which has a book and score by Tony Award-winning writers Lynn Ahrens and Stephen Flaherty, is of course based on the books of Dr. Seuss and intertwines storylines from favourites such as Horton Hears a Who! and The Cat in the Hat.

Indeed the story is told by The Cat in the Hat, played by Elliot Fitzpatrick. He is energetic and flamboyant, appearing in the action with witty timing, a comically exaggerated face and his iconic striped hat. Jojo, a young Who that thinks ‘Thinks’ that are too large, is played more subtly by Jordan Veloso. His performance connects with the audience, especially during ‘Alone in the Universe’. His vocals also match well with those of Ste Clough as Horton the Elephant, but the stand-out voice is Shekinah Mcfarlane as The Sour Kangaroo.

Kirsty Marie Ayers’ singing performance is also powerful as Gertrude McFuzz, a blue, shy bird that has self-esteem issues because she only has one feather in her tail. She contrasts in colour and character with the red, extravagant Mayzie La Bird, played by Jessica Parker. Her snobbish bird-isms are emphasised by her squawky voice and up-right walk. The ensemble, although small, drums up a tremendous atmosphere, from the busy jungle created by The Bird Girls (Amy Punter, Tanya Shields, Jennifer Low), to the tense, mischief of The Wickersham Brothers (Benjamin Vivian-Jones, Thomas Lloyd, Alastair Crosswell).

The simple set with its vibrant colours and bold ‘truffula trees’ captures the stylised world of Dr. Seuss perfectly. The designer, Richard Evans, also created the cheerful costumes that help to visually define each character. The design cleverly complements Racky Plews’ choreography, one example being the number ‘It’s Possible’, a dynamic song about the imagination accompanied by blue bed-sheet waves of sea, a humorous chorus of silver dancing fish and a red bath-tub boat.

Directed by Kirk Jameson, this is a lively, vibrant production that is true to Dr. Seuss because it is so much fun. Both children and adults will be completely swept up in the colourful, musical whirlwind of imagination that is Seussical.

Lauren Jackson

www.seussical-london.com

Readers may also be interested in:

Seussical – director Kirk Jameson makes musical magic

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