Review: Seussical (Young People’s Theatre)

Seussical, YPT

Seussical is a bold, colourful, fun show for kids and adults alike, on stage in Toronto

Young People’s Theatre’s (YPT) current production of Seussical was a luminous, high-energy romp that delighted young children and grandparents alike. The story by Lynn Ahrens and Stephen Flaherty amalgamates the story lines of Horton Hears a Who and Horton Hatches the Egg, beloved classics by Dr. Seuss. The show is filled with lively dances, accessible chorus numbers, and Seussian props and costumes.

This production is fantastical and over-the-top, and really calls on cast members to bang it out to the cheap seats the whole way through. The talented young cast clearly relished the opportunity to ham it up and delivered some very splashy and endearing triple threat performances.

While a number of Dr. Seuss characters—such as the Cat in the Hat—appear in the musical, the main story arc involves Horton fighting to save the small community of Whoville, and hatching the egg abandoned by vain, footloose and fancy free Mayzie.

Jacob MacInnis did a superb job in the principal role of Horton. Horton’s story teaches some valuable lessons about loyalty, not giving up on what you believe in, chosen family, and standing up for the little guy. MacInnis’ interpretation of Horton was sensitive and compassionate. His voice is sweet and pure, yet hearty and effective at evoking pathos.

Erin Breen gave a fun and feisty performance in the role of Mayzie, flighty bird who abandons her egg with Horton so she can continue her carefree, party girl lifestyle. Her performance of “Amazing Mayzie” was a show highlight, featuring lusty broadway-style singing, and a Tropicana style dance number—an excellent vehicle for showcasing Ms. Breen’s sonsy charms.

Arinea Hermans demonstrated herself to be a superb character actor and comedian, vocally and dramatically, in the role of Gertrude McFuzz. Gertrude is much more mousy and unassuming than Mayzie, but very devoted to Horton. Her performance of “All for You” was side-splittingly funny and charming.

It looked like choreographer Kimberley Rampersad was having the time of her life with this show from start to finish. You can get away with a lot of campy moves in Seussical. The cast delivered steps that could have looked schlocky with precision, coordination, and commitment. The finished product was toe-tapping fun that looked professional and polished.

The set and costume design for this production was also memorable. While the colour scheme was vibrant—with simple shapes and lines predominating—they avoided the trope of exclusively using primary colours in a kids show. The use of bold turquosise and purple was eye catching and easily transported us into the fantasy world that Dr. Seuss readers are familiar with. The performance is followed by a brief Q & A period and the kids had a number of astute questions about how certain stage effects were accomplished.

The show is recommended for ages 5 and up. I took my very high energy four year old son, and 80 minutes was too long for him. He started to ask if it was over after about an hour. The plot is continuous, rather than vignette style. This was a test of his focus and I think he had a hard time following the story line. He did enjoy the songs and the dances, and seeing the Cat in the Hat.

Definitely a fun activity to do with the small fry over the holidays. No small fry? No problem! I am pretty sure I saw an adult or two in the audience who were unaccompanied by children. Totally no judgement.

Details:

  • Seussical is playing until December 31, 2016 at Young People’s Theatre, (165 Front Street East, Toronto, ON)
  • Show times are November 26 & 27, December 3, 4, 10, 11, 17, 18, 27-31 at 2:30 PM, with an additional morning performances on November 27, December 4, 11, 18, 27 & 29 at 11 AM
  • Ticket prices range from $10 to $41. Youth and Seniors pay $10 – $36. Pay What you Can on December 4 at 11 AM
  • Tickets can be purchased by phone at 416.862.2222 or online

Photo of Company by Cylla Von Tiedemann