‘Seussical’ at Imagination Stage by Mariya Danilenko

Seussical at Imagination Stage brings the curious land of Dr. Seuss tales, and many of their characters, all together in one theatre. It is a holiday show designed for children and families, and is a great show for adults as well as children.

Seussical has music by Stephen Flaherty and lyrics by Lynn Ahrens (Ragtime). The book is by Lynn Ahrens and Stephen Flaherty. It’s co-conceived by Lynn Ahrens, Stephen Flaherty, and Eric Idle, and is based on several works of Dr. Seuss. The production is directed by Imagination Stage’s Artistic Director Janet Stanford. And what a terrific cast she has!

The cast of ‘Seussical.’ Photo by Margot Schulman.

In Suessical, Horton the elephant (a very funny Matthew A. Anderson) finds a speck of dust that contains an entire community of “Whos”, and in the play, he must protect this speck from all kinds of danger. Many other Dr. Seuss characters appear in the show, including the Cat in the Hat (Jamie Smithson). Practically all of the dialogue rhymes, and when it doesn’t, there is a musical number being performed. Artistic Director Janet Stanford makes sure that the show is also interactive with the audience, which is great for children because they get to help the characters and be part of the performance. For example, bunches of clovers (fuzzy pink balls that the Who’s live on) are thrown onto the audience and then children scatter out of their seats to collect and give them back to Horton.

There are several notable performances and actors. Jojo, a “Who,” is the mayor’s son; this role is played by two child actors, Svea Johnson and Simon Diesenhaus. On opening night, Johnson was performing, and she sported a short brown wig and a voice of an angel! Her rendition of “Lost in the Universe” was so beautiful. In the show, she got in trouble with her parents for having too many “thinks” and was extremely adorable when she blamed The Cat in the Hat and told him to leave her alone.

Another great performance is the song “Monkey Around,” with Christopher Wilson, Matthew DeLorenzo, and Matthew Schleigh, which is performed by three monkeys that bully Horton for believing that there is a tiny community in the speck that he found. The three monkeys look like the popular kids from high school and all three wear letterman jackets, have great dance moves and sing really well. In this scene, they take Horton’s clover and mock him by throwing it to each other like a football. And ‘Amazing Mayzie” performed by the high-energy Kirstin Riegler (Mayzie) was also a highlight of the show.

Music Director George Fulginiti-Shakar, Set Designer Tom Donahue, Costume Designer Frank Labovitz, Lighting Designer Catherine Girardi, and Sound Designer Christopher Baine all contribute excellent work.

Seussical is a ‘must see’- no matter what age you are – and especially for families – because it sends great messages, like when Horton says, “A person’s a person no matter how small.” It’s the perfect holiday gift for the entire family!

Imagination Stage was founded in 1979 to introduce children and young people to theatre arts. There are after school programs and classes, as well as theatre productions, that teach children costume design, acting, and other theatre-related tasks. Imagination Stage’s goal is to provide an outlet that will boost children’s creativity.

(L to R) The Wickershams (Matthew Schleigh, Matthew DeLorenzo, and Christopher Wilson) tease Horton (Matthew A. Anderson) in ‘Seussical.’ Photo by Margot Schulman.

Running Time: 90 minutes, including a 10-minute intermission.

Seussical plays through January 6, 2013 at Imagination Stage – 4908 Auburn Avenue, in Bethesda, Maryland.  For tickets call (301) 280-1660, or purchase them online.



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