Review: Big Bad Wolf dazzles with Seussical

Ryan Young as Horton the Elephant and Claudia Anderson as the Cat in the Hat. Picture: Gary Hutchison
Ryan Young as Horton the Elephant and Claudia Anderson as the Cat in the Hat. Picture: Gary Hutchison

A cat in a hat, an elephant loyally guarding an egg and a people so small they can comfortably live on a clover. Welcome to the magical world of Dr Seuss.

The work of the popular American children’s author has been brought to life in spectacular fashion this week at Falkirk Town Hall in ‘Seussical’, a musical production by the Big Bad Wolf children’s theatre company.

It’s the seventh annual production by the Larbert-based ensemble, and The Falkirk Herald attended the show’s opening night on Tuesday.

Based on the works of Dr Seuss, ‘Seussical’ weaves together his best-loved stories and characters from at least 15 of his books.

Written by Lynn Aherns and Stephen Flaherty, and co-conceived by Eric Idle, the show was first staged in 2000 and is thus a comparatively recent addition to the canon of popular musical theatre.

The Cat in the Hat, perhaps the most recognisable Seuss character, acts as the narrator and was played to great effect by Claudia Anderson. The teenage actor was a constant source of comic amusement, and an obvious inspiration to the younger members of the cast on stage.

The show follows the adventures of Horton the Elephant – brought to life with an accomplished performance from Ryan Young – who discovers and eventually rescues the residents of Who, “the tiniest planet in the sky”.

The confident Jenna McConachie plays Gertrude McFuzz, the kindly bird hoping to win Horton’s affections, while young Briana Craig excels as JoJo, the Who resident who is dispatched to military school by her stern, yet amusing, parents – Ruaraidh Blackwood and Rebecca Harris.

We also meet other extraordinary characters such as the sassy Mayzie La Bird, played by Alexandra Kerr, Caitlin Martin’s striking Sour Kangaroo and the bumbling General Genghis Khan Schmitz, expertly performed by Lewis Dawson.

‘Seussical’ is packed with memorable song and dance routines that will delight people of all ages, and the supporting cast ensure they are all visual and aural delights.

The professionalism displayed in this performance is not just a credit to the many volunteers and sponsors who made it possible, it is positive proof that here is a children’s theatre company that has now established itself as one of the best in the country.

The Big Bad Wolf production was directed by Gavin Orr and choreographed by Sheila Mackie. Musical direction was by Jonathon Graham.

‘Seussical’ is on at Falkirk Town Hall tonight, tomorrow and Saturday at 7 p.m. Tickets are available from The Steeple box office in Falkirk High Street.