Pauper Players Transports Audience Back to Childhood in “Seussical”

By Elizabeth Cortes, Contributor

Photo courtesy of Pauper Players

Feeling nostalgic? The library of Dr. Seuss classics comes to life in the Pauper Players’ production of “Seussical.”  This production, directed and choreographed by Julie Esworthy, a junior Business Administraton and Communication Studies double major, is sure to please anyone’s inner child.

Seuss’ famous character the Cat in the Hat narrates the familiar story of Horton the Elephant, played by junior TJ Turner, who encounters microscopic people called “Who’s” living on a speck of dust. Despite Horton’s obstacles as an outcast in the Jungle of Nool, he is determined to protect the Who’s. Horton’s new Who friend Jojo, who was brought to life by junior Alexa Cripe, faces similar problems to Horton. Meanwhile, Horton’s avian neighbor Gertrude McFuzz, played by sophomore Emily Matthews, longs for Horton and a more voluptuous set of tail feathers.  

The cast was great, and brought Seuss’ characters to life.  I was particularly impressed by Matthews, who brings depth to her role. Additionally, the roles of the Sour Kangaroo and Amazing Mayzie were occasion for showing serious vocal chops. And indeed, Ian McConnell is one cool cat in an edgy performance as the narrator.

While in many ways the play feels lighthearted and fun, underneath the eye-popping colors and Esworthy’s old-fashioned Broadway choreography, the show evokes the traumas of growing up. The song “Alone in the Universe” was particularly moving. Specifically, the music score was strong throughout the musical and accompanied the storyline perfectly.

The script itself did a fine job of combining Dr. Seuss’ original stories, which could have been easily messed up considering the volume of material being drawn upon. I was, in fact, initially skeptical myself, but it didn’t take long for the story and music to win me over.

Perhaps the most praise should go to makeup maestros Abigail Chamblee and Olivia Quick for their cosmetic wizardry. Turning actors into animals would be hard enough, but these students transformed actors into cartoon versions of animals and pulled it off beautifully. In addition, there were some beautiful costumes to assist the transformations, though their creator is sadly uncredited.

You don’t have to wonder if  the Dr. Seuss classics we read as preschoolers can be translated into a theatre performance. The Pauper Players certainly proved their ability to transform the childhood stories.

Esworthy believes that the show was “undoubtedly a success,” thanks to everyone’s hard work.  “Seussical” was more than about portraying the joys of being young: it showed there are a plethora of possibilities waiting to be discovered by every individual. How lucky we are to await such bright futures.

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