A single spotlight illuminates a familiar tall, red and white striped hat sitting alone on the edge of stage, even prior to the curtain opening on Cooper High School’s production of “Seussical,” signaling a world of bright color and loud excitement that is the hallmark of Dr. Seuss’s books.
“Seussical” is a compilation of several of Dr. Seuss’s beloved children’s stories. Horton the Elephant is persecuted by all of his friends in the Jungle of Nool, except for his lovesick neighbor Gertrude, for valiantly protecting a dust speck, believing that a tiny planet called Who resides there. While Horton heroically struggles to find a safe place for his friends in Whoville, including Jojo, a dreamer who understands him, he encounters terrible perils such as vicious monkeys, ruthless hunters, a vain bird, a wacky circus and a very Sour Kangaroo. Horton, however, is never discouraged, for as he claims, “An elephant’s faithful 100 percent.” Through a simple and energetic performance, the cast of Cooper High School’s “Seussical” truly captured the charming essence of Dr. Seuss’s books.
Austin Kevin Moore as the Cat in the Hat, the charismatic “emcee” in the musical, proved to be a thoroughly entertaining leader in the cast. With his bold characterization, animated physicality and general enthusiasm for the adventure, Moore brought a dazzling energy to his performance that advanced the wonder of the story.
The insecure Gertrude (Delaney Holt), a plain bird with only one tail feather, serves as Horton’s hope and support. Holt’s excitement and dedication to her role and the story created an infectious energy. Shane Beers as Jojo, the misunderstood “thinker” of Whoville, possessed a certain charm and awe that embodied the innocence of Dr. Seuss’s world.
Stage crew members creatively dressed as Thing One and Thing Two helped the show run smoothly. These clever costumes allowed the crew to work quickly and efficiently without interrupting the flow of the story, keeping the pace relatively steady. The lighting, designed by Heath McClellan, developed the proper mood for certain songs, like the dreamy “It’s Possible” or the unsettling “Havin’ a Hunch,” by shading the scenes with different colors such as bright blue or dark red.
The playfulness and joy of Dr. Seuss’s stories was brought to life in Cooper High School’s “Seussical.” The cast and crew’s spirit and commitment to the whimsical musical pleasantly conveyed Dr. Seuss’s message: “A person’s a person, no matter how small.”