Arguably, one of the most ubiquitous images associated with children’s literature is that of a skinny cartoon cat wearing a bow tie and a tall, red and white striped hat.
“We’ve all grown up reading Dr Seuss books as kids…” said Sam Moran, who plays that ubiquitous Dr Seuss character – the Cat In The Hat – in a forthcoming production of Seussical The Musical.
Written by an award-winning team, Lynn Ahrens and Stephen Flaherty, Seussical is a full length musical using concepts and characters from the Dr Seuss book series. The story centres around Horton The Elephant, who is presented with a dual challenge: looking after an abandoned unhatched egg, and helping a tiny community of people he discovers on a speck of dust. One of those tiny people is Jojo, a little girl with a big imagination who “thinks too many thinks”. The Cat In The Hat guides Jojo through her discovery of the world around her.
While it is based on children’s books, Seussical has a lot that will appeal to adults. It doesn’t have any cheeky bypass humour aimed to go over childrens’ heads – but it has warmth, emotion, and even some philosophical depth. Mostly it will remind adults to keep using their imagination. “We’re all in danger of losing that,” added Moran.
Imagination and child’s play features much in Moran’s career. He spent six years as the “yellow Wiggle”, hosts his own show Play Along With Sam on Nick Jr, and has just completed a children’s album, Best Day Ever, to be released at the end of August.
Also no stranger to success is Bella Thomas, who plays Jojo in the musical. She recently stunned audiences as one of the leads in Matilda. Moran cites her performance as one of the highlights of this production.
Seussical promises to have the same universal appeal as the books that inspired it.
“The songs are a little bit whacky, little bit zany, but fun and catchy as well,” said Moran. “It’s just really very sweet and very joyful.” (RB)
Aug 18–28, evenings and matinees. Bryan Brown Theatre, 80 Rickard Road, Bankstown. $20-$40. Tickets & info: www.blakc.com.au or (02) 8764 8137
BY RITA BRATOVICH