“A person’s a person no matter how small.” The venerable Theodor Seuss Geisel
This afternoon, the Temecula Children’s Musical Theater proved Seuss correct again: a person is a person…and talented…and worthy of great entertainment…no matter how small. I had the pleasure of taking my two-and-a-half-year old on our first mother-son theater date to see the charming performance of Seussical the Musical. I hoped to introduce my sports-obsessed toddler to my childhood passion of theater magic, and how could I go wrong with the much-loved Dr. Seuss leading the way?
Director Jennifer Stuart and Music Director Brian Smith guided a stunning 61 youngsters to move and groove to Seuss’s silliness. Along with choreographer Marjorie Horn, they should all be extremely proud of their ability to get that many children to do anything, much less synchronized choreography. The children’s version, adapted from the Broadway musical, primarily focuses on a combined Horton Hears a Who and Horton Hatches an Egg tale. The sweet Horton the Elephant struggles to protect a speck of dust and its inhabitants, The Whos, as well as hatch an egg left by the irresponsible Mayzie La Bird. But it also weaves in many other Seuss classics including, of course, The Cat in the Hat who serves as our mischievous tour guide.
Walking into the theater was like diving head first into Seuss’s magical books. The set was masterfully handmade by Aimee Charney and Lori Day, and included a techno-color collage of Seuss’s most beloved stories. With 90% of the audience under the age of 10, I was not sure what to expect—or how my young son would manage. However, from the first entrance of the huge colorful cast, these petite patrons were transfixed, more attentive and polite than most adults.
My own son spent the entire first act with his mouth gaping open in awe. I don’t think he was able to understand much of the complicated plot, but he couldn’t take his eyes off the flashy singing and dancing colors. The costumes, designed by Nancy Snead, were a perfect representation of Seuss’s zany creatures, most with fun color-coordinating neon hair. Rivaling any TV cartoon, this show was certainly visually enchanting for its audience.
And bravo to all these young and gifted performers! The youngest ones, as citizens of Whoville and the Jungle of Nool, were bright-eyed and sweet, singing and wiggling with eagerness and innocence. The older lead characters demonstrated amazing stage presence and vocal talent beyond their years. It was a delight watching their enthusiasm and pride as they took their well-deserved bows.
Seussical the Musical was a perfect choice for the Temecula Children’s Musical Theater because the underlying theme of imagination and ‘anything is possible’ captures the whimsical beauty of childhood. This performance was the first of many mother-son theater dates, as we will continue to enjoy this inexpensive but richly rewarding experience. The theater’s next youth presentation will be Disney’s Aladdin in January 2011, and we’re already looking forward to another magical afternoon.
So support your local youth theater! After all, “a person’s a person, no matter how small.”
City of Temecula Children’s Musical Theater
Old Town Temecula Community Theater
42051 Main Street, Temecula, CA 92590; 1-866-OLD-TOWN; http://www.temeculatheater.org/