BWW Reviews: SEUSSICAL, Arts Theatre, December 9 2012
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by Gary Naylor
Though much loved in his native USA, Dr Seuss is something of an acquired taste in the UK - a taste I acquired when reading his books aloud to my children (and you really do need to read them aloud). So I've never really understood the antipathy towards the stories (and their larger than life illustrations) as they are witty, warm and carry a moral bite absent from much home-produced literature aimed at small children. Maybe the tales pale a little in comparison to Charles Schulz's Peanuts, but what doesn't?
Sell A Door's Seussical (at The Arts Theatre until 6 January) is billed as the Young Audiences' Version, but you'd never know it, as it's a rollercoaster ride through plenty of Dr Seuss' most loved stories, starring old favourites like Horton The Elephant, The Cat in the Hat and Gertrude McFuzz. The kids can laugh at the monkeys' mischief and while the parents can enjoy some really splendid singing of big Broadway numbers (music by Stephen Flaherty), while everyone learns the gentle lesson that it can take real determination to do the right thing.
David Hunter is full of charm as the big-hearted elephant and gets wonderful support from a young cast who belt out the songs West End style, with Natalie Green as Sour Kanagroo leading in the soul sister stakes with Jessica Parker as Mayzie La Bird, the leading diva. Joe Morrow, as The Cat himself, just about holds the menagerie together and helps Horton to rescue the tiny Whos in the nick of time.
If you're looking for a family show with something more than pantos' stock characters and sledgehammer humour, Seussical is just the thing. The audience for the show I saw comprised mainly very young children, but this is a show that will appeal to much older kids too - it really is that rarest of beasts (no, not a cat in a hat or a lorax or a grinch) but a show for all the family.