The first ingredient of Seussical is fluorescence.
The stage, the costumes and the props all glisten with such blinding intensity of colour that it wouldn’t be unreasonable to assume that DOW chemical was one of the play’s major sponsors.
It’s all part of the general disorientation that overcomes the Seussical audience member.
The narrative structure is chaotic, the soundtrack is blaring and frequently the characters just seem to run around frantically.
A dosage of Gravol would not be out of order.
Standing out of the chaos is the play’s sole beacon of normalcy: Horton the elephant, played masterfully by Grade 10 student Calvin Laveck.
“I’m different from all the other jungle animals. The birds are noisy, and the Wickershams are troublemakers but Horton’s just his own person,” said Laveck.
Protagonist of such Dr. Seuss books as Horton Hatches the Egg and Horton Hears a Who, Seussical follows Horton in his attempts to save the microscopic town of Whoville, which is perilously balanced atop a piece of clover.
Costumed only in an unassuming pair of grey coveralls, the large elephant’s lumbering, but charming, aloofness and unconditional kindness is brought out through the pure force of Laveck’s performance.
“He’s really humble, he cares a lot about small things, things that other people would miss — like the clover,” said Laveck.
As trial after trial befalls the enormous pachyderm, he continues with an inspiring, almost Quixotic persistence.
Throughout, the mammal is guided by a single sentence that reaffirms his dedication to the task:
“A person’s a person, no matter how small.”
Sung with intense honesty by Laveck, the line sends shivers down even the stiffest of spines.
In addition to his role as Horton, Laveck can also be seen as a cast member in the Frantic Follies at Whitehorse’s Westmark Hotel.
Interspersed throughout Horton’s journey are a series of bizarre musical plot deviations.
That’s a reality typical of any musical, but in Seussical they are made ever the more potent by a saturation of Dr. Seuss’ references and unique Seussian rhyme.
The Cat in the Hat appears periodically in a vain attempt to cobble together the madness.
Spastic, effeminate and semi-gothic sums up Graham Rudge’s performance of the cat.
Throughout, he can be seen unicycle riding, imitating a rain-shower with a squirt gun or acting as a periodic devil’s advocate to the characters.
Also of note is the character General Schmitz played by Kyle Curtis.
Schmitz’s deep voice and commanding presence bring home a fearful, parental authoritarianism perpendicular to Seussian whimsy.
Seussical ties together the plots of 18 different Dr. Seuss books.
Since it opened on Broadway in 2000, the play has become popular among community and student theatres.
“It’s definitely a different play,” said Laveck. “In the script it even says, ‘You don’t need much.’”
“It’s got so many different meanings to it, as we were going along in the script it kept giving more and more messages.”
Seussical premieres Thursday at 8 p.m. at the Wood St. Centre.