Theatre | Hats off to Seussical KIDS | Ken Longworth

Seussical Kids: The young cast members in rehearsal for the popular show. Photo: Jamie Gilmore.
Seussical Kids: The young cast members in rehearsal for the popular show. Photo: Jamie Gilmore.

THE colourful characters in the children’s stories by Dr Seuss have been popular with adults and youngsters alike, so it’s not surprising that the musical Seussical, which brings many of those characters together, has been a hit with people of all ages.

Likewise, when the trend of adapting stage works into what are called KIDS versions began a few years ago with the aim of giving very young performers the chance to develop their skills, Seussical was again at the top of the list.

The popularity is shown by the fact that the demand for tickets for a production of Seussical KIDS by Hunter Drama at the Civic Playhouse from April 26 has been so strong that an extra show has been added.

The production features 36 performers aged 14 and under, led by Amelia Carpenter playing the mischievous and spirited Cat in the Hat, who takes the audience on a lively journey.

The Cat pops up with surprises at unexpected times, and Amelia sees her character as positive and uplifting in helping the other characters out of difficult situations.

The story, in this 45-minute version, focuses on Horton, an elephant, trying to save people known as the Whos, minute figures who live on endangered grass in the Jungle of Nool, after he encounters Jojo, a child Who, and the son of Mr and Mrs Mayor.

The tale’s other characters include two very different birds, Gertrude McFuzz and Mayzie LaBird, the Sour Kangaroo and its young child, a trio of mischievous monkeys, the Wickersham Brothers, an eagle, Vlad Vladikoff, and a turtle, Judge Yertle, with ensemble members playing Whos, fish, and figures such as a talk show host.

Amelia Carpenter said the songs by writers Lynn Ahrens and Stephen Flaherty are a mix of amusing and moving.

She is particularly fond of Alone in the Universe, which has Horton reflecting on his situation.

Assistant director Sophie Carmody points to It’s Possible and Monkey Around as being very funny.

Director James Tolhurst was a member of a Hunter Drama team of performers and teachers who presented a musical number at the United States Junior Theatre Festival in Atlanta in January.

Lynn Ahrens and Stephen Flaherty were among the festival presenters, and talked to Tolhurst and others for an hour about the staging of Seussical KIDS when they learnt that Hunter Drama was presenting the show this year.

Seussical KIDS has performances at the Civic Playhouse nightly from Wednesday, April 26, to Saturday, April 29, at 7pm, plus 10am and 2pm shows on the Saturday, and a 10am show on Sunday, April 30.

Tickets are $24.15. For bookings telephone 4929 1977.