‘Seussical’ is enthusiasm unbridled

“Seussical the Musical,” with Esteban Alvarez III as Horton the elephant, center, continues through Dec. 22 at the Gainesville Community Playhouse.

Elizabeth Hamilton/Correspondent
Published: Thursday, December 5, 2013 at 6:01 a.m.
Last Modified: Wednesday, December 4, 2013 at 11:47 a.m.

Endearing life’s lessons from Dr. Seuss:


‘Seussical the Musical’

What: Gainesville Community Playhouse production of musical inspired by Dr. Seuss books
When: 8 p.m. Thursdays and Fridays, 2 and 8 p.m. Saturdays, 2 p.m. Sundays through Dec. 22
Where: Vam York Theater, 4039 NW 16th Blvd.
Tickets: $16, $12 for students and seniors
Info: 376-4949, www.gcplayhouse.org

Think for yourself.

Make opinions not war.

Love trumps physics: Of course an elephant can hatch a bird’s egg without smushing it to smithereens.

There is a reason why members of my generation (we who came of age in the ’60s) loved to read Seuss to our own children. And it wasn’t just because of the psychedelic landscapes and improbably tall tales spawned by the most imaginative author in the history of children’s literature.

No, it’s because Seuss taught us to question authority long before Timothy Leary ever tumbled onto that generational call to arms.

And the way he did it...

Why, Seuss’ subversion practically had a beat and you could dance to it.

Don’t believe it? Then get yourself over to the Gainesville Community Playhouse and see “Seussical the Musical.”

And take the kids. They need to know this stuff.

“Seussical” is a perfect holiday cheer remedy for the post-Black Friday blues. Working with the script by Stephen Flaherty and the lyrics of Lynn Ahrens, Director Rhonda Wilson delivers up an explosion of color; a frenetic clash of dancing oranges and yellows and pinks and reds and pastels.

“Seussical” is enthusiasm unbridled. It is animation writ large with lots of exclamation points. It is 29 lively actors of all ages and sizes seemingly shrinking and expanding at will; now the tiny citizens of invisible world of Who, now the great beasts of the Jungle of Nool.

You want the Cat in The Hat? Dan Christophy serves up that scoundrel in all his rascally glory: He is con man turned game show host turned carnival barker. And always with that twinkle in his eye and that sly grin on his face.

But if Cat is the glue that binds this musical tribute to Seussology, it is Esteban Alvarez III’s Horton who proves that the center can indeed hold. Alvarez gives 150 percent in his portrayal of the melancholy elephant who remains 100 percent faithful through thick and thin. “I meant what I said and I said what I meant,” Alverez croons in mournful fidelity as all about him lose their heads and blame it on him.

Young Bryant Smith is near perfect as the wide-eyed JoJo, “one small voice in the universe,” who is summarily packed off to military school for the offense of opinionism. “I think what I think, get out of my way,” JoJo tells the tyrannical General Genghis Khan Schmitz before proceeding to pick his way across the allegorical minefield that is every freethinker’s childhood.

These three central characters are backed up by a stellar cast. Amanda Edwards is amazing as Mayzie, the feckless bird of many feathers who cons gullible Horton into minding her egg while she scoots off to Palm Beach. The strong voice of Caity Rose gives flight to Gertrude McFuzz, the bird of a single tail feather who learns that friendship, not pharmacology, is the secret to true happiness. And Kathy Williams channels her inner Aretha Franklin as the deliciously skeptical Sour Kangaroo.

But, really, the whole cast of “Seussical The Musical” deserves a generous tip of the Cat’s long, striped hat. Together they deliver up the most subversive Seussism of all.

Anything’s possible.

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