The Doctor Is In
No politics, no egotistical public servants, and no mention of the growth debate in Frederick County. Today, we're talking Seuss.
Yep, Dr. Seuss, also known by his given name, Theodor Seuss Geisel. Dr. Seuss shaped many thousands of childhoods, including my own. Yes, I learned to read with phrases like: "I would not like them here or there, I would not like them anywhere."
Most recognize those words from Green Eggs and Ham, one of Dr. Seuss' more popular children's books. Mr. Geisel never received his Ph.D., so his doctorate was self-awarded. He did try though, attending Oxford University in England in pursuit of that honor. He settled for finding Helen Palmer, the love of his life instead.
The collected works of Dr. Seuss have come to life onstage at the Jack Kussmaul Theater at Frederick Community College, thanks to the FrederickTowne Players (FTP), one of Frederick's most celebrated and beloved community theater groups.
"Seussical," written by Carol Ahrens and staged by Director Amy Chase Martin, is a memory lane trip for most adults. The story weaves together characters, locations, and themes from many of his most popular works.
The fun of Seussical is seeing characters, who never meet on the pages of a Dr. Seuss book, actually connect onstage. Horton the Elephant figures prominently in the story, along with his adoring bird friend Gertrude McFuzz. Horton, a lovable (if not a little gullible) blue-collar elephant hears the Who's call out to him as they float by on a dust speck.
That discovery sparks a great controversy in the Jungle, and tests Horton's loyalty and commitment. The story might begin and end with Horton's dilemma, but several subplots keep the story spinning through two acts and two hours.
You'll meet the Who's, a tiny people whose dust speck world is threatened by a war, and various jungle creatures that either support or antagonize Horton. Speaking of antagonists, no telling of Dr. Seuss' work would be complete without this number one character, the Cat in the Hat.
The Cat is the storyteller, ringleader, magician, and chief-cheerleader throughout the evening. Jordan Stocksdale, a very talented young man, plays the Cat, and play is the right word. Jordan will seemingly be everywhere in the Kussmaul Theater during the performance, you'll see him in the aisles, on stage, even up in the air! Close on his heels you'll find those pesky Things - Thing One and Thing Two.
Rich Cole, another talented FTP player, breathes life into Horton. This character is special, and Rich makes him memorable. Julie Ek is Gertrude McFuzz, the bird who pines for Horton but is stuck with a less than impressive set of tail feathers. Trust me, you'll fall for Gertrude/Julie! Katie Martin is Mayzie LaBird, and she flounces, prances, and ultimately breaks your heart with her humanity (well, she is a bird after all). This young lady can really belt out a tune, too.
Ms. Martin directs this wonderful story, and her energy infuses the show. Her vision for a Seussian world converts the otherwise bland Kussmaul stage into a colorful, whimsical home for this weird, whacky, and lovable coterie of characters. Amy's masterful stage direction is ably assisted by Bruce Fausey, the stage manager, tasked with controlling a large cast and coordinating an endless list of details.
FTP's talented crew has assembled set, props, and costumes that tell this story for your eyes as well as ears. FCC's own theater staff is helping with the more complex logistical undertakings.
One of the joys of helping with this production is a reunion with Anne Raugh, the musical director. If you turn the clock back to 2005, Anne made it possible for me to overcome a lifelong fear of singing on stage. Without her patient help I could never have tackled the role of Sheriff Ed Earl Dodd in "The Best Little Whorehouse in Texas."
The show opened last weekend, but you still have three chances to be transported into the magical world of Dr. Seuss. It's a chance to reconnect with your youth, or to recall those special times with a little one in your lap and a Dr. Seuss book in your hands.
You can contact FTP at www.fredericktowneplayers.org to get the information on show times and ticket prices.
So, even if you do not like Green Eggs and Ham, you'll love "Seussical the Musical!"