Seussical the Musical – A feast for the senses for all ages

Horton, left, allows Tim to hold the Who clover.

“This is my favorite show ever!” Tim, our son, exclaimed about the show. He’d been looking forward to seeing “Seussical” on Friday night, especially knowing that he’d get to see some of his friends on stage.

The show is a dazzling display of colors, music, dance and an exquisitely designed set that left us captivated from start to finish.

Once the lights went down, and the music started, we were all entranced. The big, vibrant opening number “Oh, the Thinks You Can Think,” introduced the Cat in the Hat, as the narrator, and the cast of colorful characters. Drake Calo’s mischievous Cat character artistically portrayed and seamlessly wove Dr. Seuss’ popular characters into the musical extravaganza.

“Seussical” follows the story of Horton the Elephant whose keen sense of hearing detects a tiny plea for help coming from a speck of dust floating in the air. Kind-hearted Horton catches the speck on a clover flower, and is ridiculed by the jungle animals who can’t hear little Jojo from Whoville. By the end of act one, Horton loses the Who’s clover in a bed of identical clover, Mayzie the bird asks Horton to watch over her egg for “just a little while.” A team of hunters captures Horton, and Gertrude the bluebird pines over Horton as her vanity prevents her from saving him. Meanwhile in Whoville, Jojo, played by Donovan Sorensen, has a rich imagination that gets him into trouble – and sent off to military school. Sorensen effectively captures Jojo’s childlike innocence and sense of wonder.

At intermission, Tim was enthusiastic in his response to the show. “It’s really good. I love it,” he raved. When asked about his favorite part, Tim loved the part when Horton the Elephant, played by Joey Plyler, saves the Whos. Plyler’s tender singing captured the essence of kindness and loyalty despite the odds he faced. Mom especially loved the scene with Jojo in the tub, blue water feathers cascading out as he overflowed the tub with imagination. At one point, Tim was worried about the kangaroo being a bully to Horton. However, he knew things would have to turn around by the end, especially once he recognized his elementary school counselor Iris Stevens as the vocally gifted Sour Kangaroo.

Act two finds Horton in the circus in Palm Beach, still sitting on Mayzie’s egg in the nest, in the tree. When Mayzie happens upon Horton and he tries to give her back the egg, she instead abandons her egg once and for all. Gertrude McFuzz, whimsically played by Taylor Baxley, shows her passion for Horton by shedding her extra heavy feather, searching through the clover to find Whos and tracking him down at the circus. Back in Whoville, the Grinch, played by veteran Penguin Project actor Hanna Blackwell, recounts the tale of the first Grinch Christmas. Once Jojo escapes from military school and makes his way home, he lets out a hauntingly loud noise for the jungle animals to hear and realize his presence. Finally, Sour Kangaroo turns sweet, and Mayzie and Horton welcome the sweet baby Elephant Bird, played by Lily Keenan in her GCT debut.

“It was amazing; I love all the songs,” Tim said. As a special treat, the cast greeted the audience on stage at the end of the show. Horton even entrusted Tim to hold the Who’s precious clover. He was thrilled.

The entire cast successfully captured the essence of the show revolving around central themes of humanity, love, loyalty, respect and diversity. It movingly touches on a range of human emotions of loneliness, jealousy, perseverance and acceptance. As Horton says, “A person is a person, no matter how small.”

The Paguntalans make their home in Greenwood. They watched their daughter on stage, never dreaming son Tim would get the same opportunity. Tim began his stage career at GCT as a Penguin Project actor in productions of “Annie, Jr” and “Aladdin, Jr”. Tim has also participated in productions of “Madagascar” and “My Son Pinocchio.” In addition to improving his confidence and speaking skills, GCT’s commitment to inclusion has made the theater a regular fixture in Tim’s social life.