News and notes from Fredericksburg's entertainment scene
Young life: ‘Seussical Jr.’ at Riverside Children’s Theater
BY COLLETTE CAPRARA
FOR THE FREE LANCE–STAR
The production of “Seussical Jr.” not only presents an awe-inspiring whirlwind of colorful costumes, vibrant choreography, and upbeat music but also carries a message that both children and their parents will take to heart.
The story, a longstanding favorite of generations of children, presents the tale of ever-loyal Horton the Elephant and the perils he encounters while doggedly championing the protection of the microscopic realm of Whoville.
“The Seuss stories appeal to adults as well as children,” said Steve Thompson, who is co-directing the show with his wife Mary at Riverside Children’s Theater now onstage through May.
“The attraction is not only the whimsical nature of his tales but the reality they convey. Even though the characters are a little strange-looking and speak in rhyming verses, everybody can relate to the situations they portray. The basic message of this show is the importance of loyalty—being true to your friends and to yourself,” Thompson said.
As the play opens, that familiar top-hat of the Cat in the Hat provides the entrée to the infinite possibilities of the realm of imagination. He conjures up the entrance of a bevy of fantastic characters, including the flamboyant Mayzie la Bird, the Motown Bird Girls, the rough-and-tumble Wickersham Monkeys and a skeptical, scurrilous Kangaroo.
When a call for help from a tiny speck catches Horton’s ear, he discovers a new friend, Jo–Jo the Who, and his whole imperceptibly-small village. Perturbed at the allegiance Horton expresses for the Whos, the other creatures of the Jungle of Nool react with disdain for a realm they can neither perceive or understand, going so far as to threaten to annihilate that miniature world.
As he struggles to ensure the safety of Whoville, Horton, himself, has a champion—inconspicuous Gertrude McFuzz, who may have only a dowdy one-feathered tail but also a heart of gold and an unwavering commitment to stand by her friend.
Horton encounters such ordeals as being captured and sold to a circus and being put on trial by the pompous disbelieving jungle creatures. And, along the way, he is saddled with the extra responsibility of caring for the egg that self-centered Mayzie leaves behind.
But in the end, through his determination, the impassioned plea of the Whos, and the support of Gertrude, Horton is vindicated; the Whos win recognition; and a loveable elephant–bird who hatches from the egg is entrusted to the care of Horton and Gertrude who, together, will teach him about the earth and sky.
“Even a child who doesn’t believe in Santa Claus will believe in this show,” said Carl Bowman, longtime veteran Riverside actor who plays Horton. “It will encourage kids to dream!”
What: “Seussical Jr.”
Where: Riverside Children’s Theater, 95 Riverside Parkway, Fredericksburg (off Sanford Drive, first traffic light on U.S. 17 north after I-95 intersection)
When: Through May 26. 2 p.m. Saturdays, 1 p.m. lunch. Selected Tuesdays and Thursdays: 10:15 a.m. lunch, 11:30 a.m. performance. (Call for specific dates.)
Cost: Saturday matinées $16 (lunch and show); Tuesdays and Thursdays $12 (show only, bring bag lunch).
Info/reservations: 540/370-4300, riversidedt.com
Collette Caprara is a local freelance writer and artist.