Goodness, did my two love this show!
The back story
Seussical The Musical Jr. is the Peoples’ Theatre version of the fabulous and fantastical Broadway show, in which the Cat in the Hat narrates a special story. Assuming that you’re familiar with some or most of the work of the good Dr Seuss, I won’t bore you with too much plot information, but you should know that:
- Seussical features many much-loved characters from Seuss’s iconic books: Horton the Elephant, Gertrude McFuzz, Mayzie La Bird, The Cat in the Hat, etc.
- Horton finds a speck of dust containing tiny people called the Whos. He feels compelled to protect it from a world of dangers, while guarding an egg that’s been left in his care by the irresponsible Mayzie. Although Horton faces enormous obstacles and widespread ridicule, Gertrude never loses faith in him.
- Seussical cleverly integrates several distinct storylines into a single narrative, incorporating Circus Magurkus, Green Eggs and Ham, the Jungle of Nool, and both the Whos and the Egg – all without changing the basics that little kids love.
The show itself
Expect lavish costumes, cute sets and clever lighting, as well as gorgeous stage make-up. And, given the intimacy of the Peoples’ Theatre, it was both authentic and incredibly sweet when the Cat sang directly to a tiny little boy in the front row.
In terms of performance, there are three stand-outs for me; all female: Kayli Smith as Gertrude McFuzz, Carmen Tromp as Mayzie La Bird and Palesa Makhalima as the Sour Kangaroo / Mrs Mayor. These performers simply knocked it out of the park with their soaring voices, expressive and seamless acting, and consistent choreography.
The polish of child actors seldom overwhelms me, and it didn’t in this case. But my children (five and 12) couldn’t have cared less about the odd dropped note, forgotten gesture or mangled lyric – they were thrilled to see kids their own age on stage.
Seussical isn’t The Lion King, but there is a lot to recommend for the younger audience (aged 3-8). The dialogue is smart and witty, the songs are catchy, and the whole show is a brightly-coloured-madly-spangled-feathered-festival of fun.
The show runs through the holidays, with the final performance on 24 December. You’ll find it at the Peoples’ Theatre in the Joburg Theatre complex, Braamfontein.
Performance times are 9am and 11am from Monday to Friday, and 10:30am and 2.30pm on Saturdays, some Sundays and public holidays. Book on www.webtickets.co.za, www.joburgtheatre.com or www.peoplestheatre.co.za.