The fantastical and magical world of Dr Seuss will burst into South London with a riot of colour, feathers, music and pizzazz this month thanks to a major stage show. Featuring some of his most endearing and much-loved characters – Horton the elephant, Gertrude McFuzz and of course the infamous Cat In The Hat – Seussical will take over the Southwark Playhouse’s Large stage with a feel-good music fest for all the family.
Included in the 12-strong cast is Clapham-based Sarah Spence who will take on the role of Bird Girl. Having just graduated from drama school, the 25-year-old says it’s a dream job and one she can’t wait to bring to audiences.
“We have just started rehearsals and it’s already a joy to be part of this amazing ensemble,” she enthuses. “It’s such a feel-good show, high octane with music from the get-go that doesn’t stop and that audiences will be tapping their feet to all the way through.
“I play one of the Bird Girls in Maisie’s troupe. I have some great songs to sing so for a first job I couldn’t be happier. It’s also amazing to be here at the Southwark Playhouse as it’s a fantastic theatre and one of my favourites – the productions they put on are incredible.”
Without giving away too many spoilers Spence tells me Seussical is an amalgamation of some of the Dr Seuss stories but with an emphasis on Horton Hears A Who.“It’s a very clever adaptation in which we meet lots of the characters who will be familiar to anyone who has read his books,” she says. “In particular the audience gets to follow Horton the Elephant as he journeys through the various different worlds inhabited by Dr Seuss. It’s full of excitement, lots of fun and non-stop action.”
As in the original tales, the show touches on some of today’s most topical issues – such as the power of loyalty, bullying, unrequited love, inclusivity and acceptance – in a funny and moving way.“I think the positive affirmations and messages of inclusion and acceptance that run throughout the stories are some of the reasons Dr Seuss is so loved,” says Sarah.“The issues he references in the books are still as relevant today as when they were written. So I think we can all relate to these themes which are within the show – certainly working in this industry I’ve felt insecurity from time to time. “It makes the show very relevant – it’s wacky, mischievous, wild and hilarious at times but it contains important messages and reminds the audience that a ‘person is a person no matter how small’ and that we should be accepted for who and what we are.”And she insists it’s a production the whole family can enjoy and with the action taking place so close to the audience she says it will be an immersive and thrilling experience.“It’s a bit like a panto in that respect,” she says warmly. “There are larger than life characters and amazing costumes – I don’t want to give anything away but mine looks fantastic with plenty of feathers! “It’s packed with colour, fun and excitement with the most amazing musical numbers all the way through. The score is incredible as it features a whole range of different styles such as funk, big band, swing, rock n roll as well as the more traditional musical theatre numbers. “It goes from light and soft to big rocky numbers so there is definitely something for everyone and the tunes are really catchy.“But there is also real depth to it. It’s inspiring and at times it’ll be really emotional. What makes it even more special is that the audience is so close they can almost touch us and so it will feel really intimate.”The show opens on Tuesday, November 27 and runs until Saturday, December 29 after which Sarah says she hopes to continue working in musical theatre.“I was always pestering my parents to sign me up for acting, singing and ballet lessons when I was little,” she laughs. “I always knew this is what I wanted to do – it was definitely a calling. “I’d love to do TV and film one day but for the time being, the stage is where I want to be and where I feel most comfortable. I can’t imagine doing anything else really so I’m keen to see where my career takes me.“I’m very lucky to have Seussical as my first job. I’d be lying if I said I wasn’t nervous but I’m also hugely excited about it not least because the Southwark Playhouse was on my bucket list to perform at.“If the rehearsals are anything to go by, it’s going to be a lot of fun.”
Seussical is on at the Southwark Playhouse, Newington Causeway, from Tuesday November 27 until Saturday, December 29. Visit www.southwarkplayhouse.co.uk or call the box office on 0207 407 0234 for tickets.