Horton hears a cue in Village Theatre’s ‘Seussical Jr.’

April 17, 2012

By Warren Kagarise

Rachel Donka (left), as JoJo, and Sarah Dennis, as The Cat in the Hat, enact ‘Oh the Thinks You Can Think’ from the Village Theatre KIDSTAGE production of ‘Seussical Jr.’ By Jean Johnson/Village Theatre

In the can-do universe of Dr. Seuss, “Oh, the Thinks You Can Think!” is the mantra.

The latest “think” from the KIDSTAGE program at Village Theatre is “Seussical Jr.” — a musical based on the poetic pulses and colorful characters of Dr. Seuss, a.k.a. Theodor Seuss Geisel.

The musical debuts at First Stage Theatre a little more than a month after students in Issaquah and around the globe celebrated 100 years since Geisel’s birth March 2. The film adaptation of the seminal Dr. Seuss tale “The Lorax” opened the same day.

So, as Dr. Seuss re-enters pop culture in grand fashion, young performers at Village Theatre started rehearsals on Geisel’s birthday.

“We didn’t plan it that way,” director and KIDSTAGE Programs Manager Suzie Bixler said. “It was random and a really cool coincidence.”

The musical opened April 13 and runs until April 29.

“Seussical Jr.” is rooted in the 2000 Broadway musical “Seussical” — a mélange of Seuss creations from the familiar “Oh, the Places You’ll Go!” and “The Cat in the Hat” to less celebrated stories.

If you go

‘Seussical Jr.’

  • Village Theatre — First Stage Theatre
  • 120 Front St. N.
  • Through April 29
  • Show times vary
  • $14 to $16
  • 392-2202 or www.villagetheatre.org

Familiar characters — Horton, Thing 1 and Thing 2, and the Cat in the Hat — populate the show. The titular Who-listener in “Horton Hears a Who!” is a lead character in the musical. The Cat in the Hat acts as a narrator.

“Seussical Jr.” includes a dose of Seussian fun, from the songs to the sets.

The backdrop resembles a jungle and Seussian signs dot the set pieces.

“We’ve tried to be true to the Seussian world by using really bright colors,” Bixler said.

“Seussical Jr.” contrasts from other offerings in recent months — classic musical “Godspell” and original musical “Hot Mess,” a beauty pageant satire.

“Seussical Jr.” truncates the Broadway rendition by removing a subplot and trimming the runtime. The cast members in the show range in age from 11 to 17.

The message in the musical emulates the parables Dr. Seuss offered in beloved book after beloved book.

“It’s OK to be different. You shouldn’t change yourself for somebody else,” Bixler said. “It’s actually pretty cool to be creative and imaginative, and to have a dream and follow it and go for it.”

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