Lucille Lortel Theatre, New York • 17 July 2007 • 10:30am
Music by Stephen Flaherty. Lyrics by Lynn Ahrens. Book by Lynn Ahrens & Stephen Flaherty. Based on the works of Dr. Seuss.
Produced by Theatreworks USA. Directed & choreographed by Marcia Milgrom Dodge. With Shorey Walker (The Cat in the Hat), Michael Wartella (JoJo), Brian Michael Hoffman (Horton the Elephant), Karen Weinberg (Gertrude McFuzz), Kelly Felthous (Mayzie La Bird), Ebony Marshall-Oliver (Sour Kangaroo/Young Kangaroo)…
When I originally saw Seussical on Broadway in 2001, part of the fun came from being in the middle of an audience of kids who responded heartily to what happened on stage. Strangely enough, the audience at the Lortel, consisting almost entirely of groups of kids from various summer camps, failed to show the same level of enthusiasm to this version labelled “for Young Audiences,” which lasts about 75 minutes. (In the mezzanine, where I sat, it was obvious the kids who filled the three rows in front of me were utterly bored.)
And yet the show is very professionally done, with an outstanding contribution from director/choreographer Marcia Milgrom Dodge, who really keeps things going in a fluid and energetic manner. But maybe the smaller format of this production puts more emphasis on the show’s faults. Sometimes the big dollars of a Broadway production come in handy when the material is not 100% perfect. There is no time for the audience to really identify or empathise with the characters on stage. Beside, the actress who plays The Cat in the Hat really looks and acts too much like a school teacher, which creates a serious lack of magic exactly where it should come from.