Horton hears a cue: Keegan Theatre stages Dr. Seuss mashup in ‘Seussical: The Musical’

WTOP's Jason Fraley previews 'Seussical: The Musical' at Keegan Theatre (Part 1)

You’ve read his words on the page, now you’ll see them on the stage. You may not like green eggs and ham, but you’ll love live theater, Sam I Am.

A scene from "Seussical: The Musical."(Cameron Whitman)
Dr. Seuss’ rhymes come to life in “Seussical: The Musical” at Keegan Theatre in D.C. now through July 22.

“It’s billed as a fantastical musical extravaganza, but it’s also, at the heart of it, about family and friends and community,” co-director Kurt Boehm told WTOP.

Written for Broadway in 2000 by Lynn Ahrens and Stephen Flaherty with story input by Eric Idle of Monty Python, “Seussical: The Musical” follows a young child named Jojo, who goes on an adventure from the Jungle of Nool to the Circus McGurkus to the invisible world of the Whos, encountering all of your favorite Dr. Seuss characters, including Horton the Elephant, The Cat in the Hat, Gertrude McFuzz and Lazy Mayzie.

“This show pulls mostly from ‘The Cat in the Hat,’ that’s one of our characters, then it really follows ‘Horton Hears a Who,'” co-director Ashleigh King told WTOP. “There’s a lot of beloved characters from the Seuss library who appear in the show. We have a character that has an egg that needs to be protected, we have characters going on long journeys both literally and figuratively, then at the end, the sky turns pink.”

The musical numbers feature lyrics by Ahrens and music by Flaherty played by a six-piece orchestra.

“We begin with, obviously, the title song, but it gets into a bunch of different songs that begin with Sour Kangaroo’s ‘Biggest Blame Fool,’ that’s a really fun one that you guys will see that includes the Wickersham Brothers and the Bird Girls,” Boehm said. “‘Alone in the Universe’ is a really beautiful duet between Horton and Jojo probably midway through the show, and ‘Green Eggs and Ham’ is one of my favorite ones toward the end.”

The music is all set to colorful visuals with sets by Josh Sticklin and “big, bright, bold” costumes by Alison Samantha Johnson and Janine Sunday, some of which were borrowed from Toby’s Dinner Theatre in Columbia, Maryland.

“Josh Sticklin created this beautiful playground [with] all of the sketch colors and canvas for the imagination that Dr. Seuss’ books already were, and really made that 3D,” King said. “There’s nothing exactly predictable. You want to jump into that space. We have a swing, we have stairs that zigzag, we have a tunnel that leads to who knows where. You see the City of Who in the distance and all of those iconic Seuss colors and illustration styles.”

Find more information here.

WTOP's Jason Fraley previews 'Seussical: The Musical' at Keegan Theatre (Part 2)

Listen to our full conversation here.

Jason Fraley

Hailed by The Washington Post for “his savantlike ability to name every Best Picture winner in history," Jason Fraley began at WTOP as Morning Drive Writer in 2008, film critic in 2011 and Entertainment Editor in 2014, providing daily arts coverage on-air and online.

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