Hear a Who with Horton at the Off Broadway Theatre Co. production of ‘Seussical the Musical’Mar 30, 2023 01:30PM ● By Katherine Weinstein
Carl Smith as Horton the Elephant and Zoie Farmer as Gertrude McFuzz share a laugh in the Off Broadway Theatre Co. production of “Seussical the Musical.” (Photo by Nicolas Brown/Off Broadway Theatre Co.)
The Cat in the Hat, Horton the Elephant, the Whos of Whoville and other memorable characters from the imagination of Dr. Seuss will appear on the stage of Draper Historic Theatre this month. Off Broadway Theatre Co. presents "Seussical the Musical" by Lynn Ahrens and Stephen Flaherty March 31 through April 29.
The script pulls together characters from a variety of Dr. Seuss books but focuses mainly on the stories of "Horton Hears a Who," "Gertrude McFuzz" and "Horton Hatches an Egg." For many in the cast, the musical's themes of kindness and inclusion along with a big dose of silliness make it a favorite.
Carl Smith, who plays Horton, said he has enjoyed listening to the Broadway cast recording for years. "I really empathize with Horton's experience," he said. "Horton has to learn how to deal with bullies and the right ways to stand up for himself." For Smith, one of the show's themes is about the value of being kind in the face of unkindness. "Horton is nice, kind and gentle to everyone no matter how they treat him," he said.
For Cassidy Bullock, who is making her stage debut as Mayzie LaBird, the message of the show is that "no matter how alone you feel, there is always someone on your side." She quoted the script, "'A person is a person no matter how small.'"
Cassidy's husband, Ryan Bullock, plays the Cat in the Hat. It's a challenging role as the Cat is on stage quite a bit in different guises. "He moves the story along playing different characters or just being a goofball," Ryan Bullock said. "The cast and director of the show have made it so much fun. Seeing the show come to life has been amazing."
The Bullocks are not the only family members performing together in "Seussical." Caroline Farmer and her mother, Zoie, respectively play Jojo, a young Who, and Gertrude McFuzz, a bird who is secretly in love with Horton. Eleven year old Caroline is making her stage debut. She said that while it was a little stressful learning lines, songs and choreography for the first time, "It's still really fun! I help to create things in the story." Much of the action on stage unfolds in the imagination of her character.
Zoie Farmer is also enjoying playing Gertrude who tries to grow her tail longer to catch the eye of Horton. "He's clueless—sweet and good-hearted as he is," Zoie said. In the end, Gertrude learns that trying to change who she is is not the answer. "There is a theme here about being authentic," she said.
Emma Gilmore plays the Sour Kangaroo, one of the main villains of the show who refuses to believe that the Whos exist. She explained that presenting full musicals is a fairly recent departure from the highly-improvised parody shows that Off Broadway Theatre Co. is known for. "We're sticking to the original written script," she noted. "But we also add in bits of improv. We might pause a song and add a bit. It's a lot of fun and adds another layer to the show that only Off Broadway Theatre can do."
She mentioned that this production of "Seussical" is triple-cast. This has been done to keep the show going in case an actor gets sick and also ensures that the youngest cast members aren't overwhelmed with too many performances. The company also wanted to accommodate all of the talented members of the community who auditioned. "Each of the different casts brings something a little different to each show," Gilmore said.
Carl Smith said, "The people who are doing 'Seussical' are passionate about it which always makes the show better. I'm really proud of this. It's a good show."
Off Broadway Theatre Co. presents "Seussical the Musical" March 31 through April 29 on the stage of Draper Historic Theatre. Curtain time is 7:30 p.m. Draper Historic Theatre is located at 12366 S. 900 East. For tickets, visit theobt.org.