Southwark Playhouse, London – until 29 December 2018
Seussical the Musical is so utterly and completely charming I’m not ashamed to say it brought me to happy tears of joy at the end. Fast-paced – frenetic even – the action never stops, but it never gets in the way either of the drama or the heart or the show.
The story is mostly based around Horton Hears a Hoo (not the Seuss story with which I am most familiar I admit!). The eponymous elephant is sensitively played by Scott Paige who shares his dreams both with Hoo child JoJo (Anna Barnes) and the shy bird Gertrude (Amy Perry).
It would be hard to single out any of the principals for particular praise. Each one is as good as the next. Though props should go to Marc Pickering for an unflagging performance as judge, ringmaster, conductor and throughout the most wonderful Cat in the Hat – my childhood hero.
This is a show for kids, though the adults seemed to love it too. I made a point of looking at the faces of the children in the audience at times and they were clearly as enraptured as I was.
The creative team deserves enormous credit. Director James Tobias and choreographer Chris Whittaker clearly have a deep understanding of how to stage a musical and how to make sure it plays to every corner of the house. Southwark Playhouse is a wonderful space, but a less ambitious or confident production could have lost some of the in-the-round audience. There was no danger of that here.
As the nights, the news and the world at large get darker it gets harder to find our joy. But it has become more important than ever to look for it. I found it tonight at the Southwark Playhouse. And young or old, from the biggest elephant to the smallest Hoo – I’m betting you will too.