It doesn’t have a baby Jesus, but it does have another kind of savior — Horton the Elephant — and it has a heartwarming story and lots of fun music, merry and gay dances, and hilarious scenes. And, as done by the North Raleigh Arts and Creative Theatre, the show is spritely, joyful, and delightful. Well directed and choreographed by Julia Fair, assisted by Alison LaRue, and musically directed by Craig Johnson, Seussical the Musical skips along like a happy child, with our favorite Dr. Seuss characters in full flight and elation. The storyline is an amalgam of the more well-known stories from his books, chiefly The Cat in the Hat, Horton Hears a Who, Horton Hatches the Egg, and Miss Gertrude McFuzz.
Doug Price presents us with a fine Horton the Elephant, sensitive, caring, and determined as he protects the egg and saves the Who people. Gertrude McFuzz is charmingly played by Lorelei Mellon, whose comic style is tender and sweet and whose voice has a bird-like quality.
Melanie Carviou does a brassy Cat in the Hat who keeps the stories intermingling and flowing and also substitutes for the doctor who makes Gertrude’s tail grow. The Sour Kangaroo is sung and acted by Alex Matsuo, whose magnificent voice is virtually operatic.
Mayzie La Bird, the feature dancer singer of The Birds (three tall, leggy dancer/singers who do great work), is selfish, vain, and irresponsible; and she is glamorously performed by Ashley Lorenz, who commands the stage with her movements and lusty voice.
The part of JoJo is played by Natalie Olinger, whose sweet voice and perplexed demeanor perfectly fit the boy who thinks too much. The Who citizens and clover field troupe are marvelous, with Chris Berg as the beloved Mr. Mayor and Angeline Bryant outstanding for her onstage focus.
The Wickersham brothers, who double as the monkeys, are rough and tumble and hip in their movements and contortions. Mary Erskine, dance troupe member and captain, is also a commendable Yertle the Turtle. The entire ensemble were energetic and enthusiastic in singing and dancing — it is obvious for all of them this much effort was also pure entertainment.
Be prepared to be entertained during the pre-show by the persistent Thing 1 and Thing 2, in the personages of John Ravenscraft and Logan Powers, who do so much more than simply conduct you to your seats.
SECOND OPINION: Nov. 25th Raleigh, NC WNCN preview by Valonda Calloway and Alex Butler for “My Carolina Today”: http://www.wncn.com/story/27479124/seussical-performance-and-interview.
North Raleigh Arts and Creative Theatre presents SEUSSICAL THE MUSICAL at 8 p.m. Dec. 19, 3 and 8 p.m. Dec. 20, and 3 p.m. Dec. 21 at NRACT, in the Greystone Village Shopping Center, 7713-51 Lead Mine Rd., Raleigh, North Carolina 27615.
TICKETS: $18.59 ($15.48 students and seniors), including fees.
BOX OFFICE: 919-866-0228, email@example.com, or http://www.brownpapertickets.com/event/724035?date=1060314.
Seussical the Musical (2000 Broadway, 2007 Off-Broadway, and 2012 West End musical): http://www.ahrensandflaherty.com/theatre.html (official website), http://www.mtishows.com/show_detail.asp?showid=000229 (Music Theatre International), http://guidetomusicaltheatre.com/shows_s/seussical.htm (The Guide to Musical Theatre), http://ibdb.com/show.php?id=10308 (Internet Broadway Database), and http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Seussical (Wikipedia).
Stephen Flaherty (music and book): http://www.ahrensandflaherty.com/ (official website), http://www.ibdb.com/person.php?id=11668 (Internet Broadway Database), and http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Stephen_Flaherty (Wikipedia).
Lynn Ahrens (lyrics and book): http://www.ahrensandflaherty.com/ (official website), http://www.ibdb.com/person.php?id=7450 (Internet Broadway Database), and http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Lynn_Ahrens (Wikipedia).
Julia Sharpe Fair (Cary, NC director): https://www.facebook.com/julia.s.fair (Facebook page).
Martha Keravuori is a life-long theater artist — an actress, director, and stage manager — in North Carolina, around the country, and overseas. She has a theater degree from UNC-Greensboro, and has been active in the arts in Raleigh for the past 40 years. Martha is the retired executive director of the North Carolina Theatre Conference. Chuck Galle returned to Raleigh last year after a 17-year absence. He was active in community theater for many years, and directed the troupe of maximum-security inmates at Raleigh’s Central Prison known as the Central Prison Players. In New England, he performed on stage, on TV, and in films. He is the author of Stories I Never Told My Daughter — An Odyssey, which can be ordered on his website: http://www.chuckgalle.com/. Chuck Galle and Martha Keravuori review theater for Boom! Magazine of Cary. Click here to read more of their reviews for Boom! Magazine and here to read more of their reviews for Triangle Review and Triangle Arts and Entertainment.