Get there any way you can—by a plane, or a train, by a bike or even a kite or just your feet but get there! Where is there? Why it’s “Seussical,” the fantasy musical now playing at the Paul Bunyan Playhouse. In an audience mostly filled with seniors, and some children sprinkled in and around, it was gratifying to see them all rise and clap their hands in rhythm to the encore song “Green Eggs and Ham.” Despite the sunny Sunday afternoon—we haven’t had very many of them lately—an almost full house welcomed the Seuss characters from many books and stories. Last year, when Marsh Muirhead won the philosophical debate asking the question of whether poetry matters, he spoke about the poetry of Theodor Geisel (Dr. Seuss) and the impact it has had all over the world. Pity that we don’t listen more closely to the lessons on life as so simply outlined by Geisel! Some years back another poet (Robert Fulghum) made headlines by declaring that “All I Ever Needed to Know I Learned in Kindergarten.” His poem ends with the suggestion, “Be aware of wonder.”
An often overlooked but impactful story by Geisel, “The Butter Battle Book,” tells the story of the Yooks whose bread is buttered top side and the Zooks who whose bread is buttered on the bottom. A war ensues, as do most wars over trivial matters (as it usually turns out) with a General Genghis Kahn Schmitz at the forefront. He is skillfully caricatured by Chuck Deeter, just one of the many fanciful characters in this production. Horton (Eric Benson) is trusting, helpful and endearing, especially to Gertrude Mcfuzz who tries every way possible to attract his attention only to win out in the end as they promise to bring up their “child” together. Horton will teach the things of the earth and Gertrude the things of the sky—you see their “child” is an elephant with wings.
The physicality of the monkeys is astounding. Overall, the choreography is clever, innovative and compelling for it captures the persona of the individual characters; some to the point of absurdity. The costumes are fun, just plain fun with “over the top” interpretations by the designer. The combo (keyboard, guitar and drums) headed by musical director Matt Goinz complement rather than challenge the singers. And what singers—wow!
Are you hooked yet, I sure hope so but it’s really a show for five-year-olds and up. It was sad to see parents of very young children leave the performance early for they may be hesitant to attend another live performance in the future. Tickets are selling quickly for the rest of the performances this week, and as I wrote before, if you can only get to one show this summer season, let it be this one. Click here to order tickets for the show.