On the 15th of May (or the 2nd of December), in the Jungle of Nool (or Woodbury), in the heat of the day, in the cool of the pool, Horton heard a small sound: the sound of a Who. He promised to protect them, because after all a person’s a person, no matter how small.
Take a trip down memory lane to when you were a small child listening to the rhythmic stories of Dr. Seuss being read to you. Or perhaps you have more recent memories as a parent, enjoying the delight on your child’s face as you read the stories to them. Now mash those stories together, add music, and you have a magically fantastical musical extravaganza. Seussical the Musical, performed by Woodbury Community Theatre at the Merrill Community Arts Center, is a fun and energetic story combining the many great works of Dr. Seuss with a focus on Horton’s two most popular adventures: Horton Hears a Who and Horton Hatches an Egg.
Jake Ranier, Ben Habegger, Anne Brown, and Keri Hommez bring Horton, the Cat, Gertrude, and lazy Mayzie to life along with a whole cast of other memorable characters. The Cat (Habegger) mischievously narrates the story, breaking the fourth wall and provoking other characters to have fun. He enthusiastically pops up throughout the story while helping the young Who, JoJo (Chandler Schmitz), face oppression and to “think his thinks.”
Ranier joyfully nails all Horton’s best qualities—honesty, faithfulness, and kindness—and you will not only fall in love with him from the first time he sings but get more emotionally connected the more the show goes on. We all know a character like Mayzie, who enjoys being admired and adored, and actor Keri Hommez is sassy, sexy, and full of energy; I completely hated her for pawning her egg off on Horton for a year to enjoy her exciting and luxurious lifestyle. But the one I enjoyed the most was Gertrude: Anna Brown’s quirkiness and humor sold the character for me. Although Horton is facing ridicule for believing in the Whos, sitting on a bird egg, getting kidnapped by hunters, and being put on trial, Gertrude never loses faith in him.
The set and props in this show were magnificent, simple, and fun and left no doubt this was a Seuss story. The theater is spacious and easy to navigate. I enjoyed the rapport between the Wickersham brothers, although I would have liked them to have a little more monkey in their costumes. (Tails, maybe?) The other characters resembled jungle animals or Whos.
Lenore Weir directs an entertaining, energetic, musically endowed cast in Seussical, and I recommend taking the whole family to one of the three remaining shows: Friday and Saturday, December 9 and 10, at 7:00 p.m. and Sunday, December 11, at 3:00 p.m. Find more information and purchase tickets on the Woodbury Community Theatre Facebook page and the Merrill Community Arts Center website.