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For kids, by kids: “The Seussical” brings Seuss’ writings to stage Natalia Evdokimova | Thu, Nov 17 2011 10:35 AM



                   “I meant what I said, and I said what I meant. An elephant’s....” If you or your children can unhesitatingly finish the quote, “The Seussical” fits the bill for your next family weekend outing. Espousing timeless themes appropriate for young children, “The Seussical” retells the story of “Horton Hears a Who” in daring musical form.

                    “The Seussical’s” all-kids cast does not include a slew of trained actors. In fact, for some of the thespians, it is their first or second performance. Despite the green talent, some of it was ripe for the picking. Sara Freedland’s performance as Gertrude takes command of the stage in a way similar to Lea Michele in the TV program “Glee.” Portraying a blue bird with only one feather on her tail, Freedland’s lively stage presence coupled with her impressive vocal range makes her one of the key stars of the musical. She overpowers her co-stars using a tactful flair and a gift for theater. With intensive training, Freedland can undoubtedly become Broadway material in several years.

                    Adding further credentials to the musical was Sergio Christofalo as the Cat in the Hat. Starting with a shaky, unconfident voice, Christofalo finished strong in both his music and his dramaturgy. His animated face and punctual jokes added depth to his character, while his vocals improved as the musical continued. Grasping his character’s personality and quick-wittedness, Christofalo will unfortunately be leaving the Morgan-Wixson this year, which will be a major loss for the theater troop.

                    Unlike adult theater, “The Seussical” champions themes vital to childhood development. Instructing the kids to never give up is Horton (Scott Senior), the amicable elephant. Even though nobody believes him that he found Who-ville on a tiny speck of dust, Horton perseveres. When faced with the trial of sitting on an egg for many grueling months, Horton continues his mission. Overall, Horton shows the positive results of persistence, teaching the audience members to follow suit.

                    Using the entire stage both vertically and horizontally, the young cast moves around in brightly colored costumes. The contrasting colors look best when the little Whos dance like Austin Powers to music oddly reminiscent of “Aladdin” and “The Lion King.” Mixing purple and yellow, the Whos’ costumes evoke the imagery of the 1960s “Swinging London” fashions. Because the vivid colors constantly move around the stage, the effect grabs the attention of the youthful audience and keeps it. So, for children known to fidget, the brilliant costumes and endless movement will keep them pleasantly entertained.

            Although “The Seussical” can securely capture a juvenile’s attention, it must exert more of an effort for the adults. The universal themes pale in comparison to more mature plays that dive into an enigmatic person’s psyche, but it is a pleasure to see young talent blossoming on the theatrical stage. Furthermore, the catchy music and the bold-colored costumes takes the older audience on a trip through its long-passed youth. Currently showcasing at the Morgan-Wixson Theater in Santa Monica, “The Seussical” plays Saturdays and Sundays at 2 P.M.


Natalia Evdokimova has been involved with theater throughout her life and has reviewed theatrical productions for local and citywide publications since 2005.


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