By Megan McDonald October 27, 2011

The Players present Seussical.

The colorful characters we all know and love from reading Dr. Seuss explode onto the Players stage with color, energy and charm in Seussical, a musical adaptation of several Seuss stories by the Broadway team of Stephen Flaherty and Lynn Ahrens.

You feel even before the curtain rises that you’re in for a good time with this show, just looking at the set design by Michael Newton-Brown, which features a giant hat from the Cat in the Hat and tall, eye-popping plants that look almost exactly like illustrations in Seuss books. And once the show does start, you’re immediately whisked away to the world of imagination thanks to that troublemaking but charismatic Cat, played with engaging brio and versatility by Chip Fisher. (Fisher also played the role in the Manatee Players production of the show a few years ago, directed by Bob Trisolini, who also helms this production.)

Fisher and the young JoJo (Stevie Romero, who’s rambunctious as a boy who dares to think differently from those around him) kick off the action by taking us to the Jungle of Nool, where Horton the elephant (a believable Tim Fitzgerald) thinks he is hearing voices from a tiny speck of dust. Everyone in the jungle (except his faithful neighbor, Gertrude McFuzz, played with poise and polish beyond her years by the young Anna Trinci) thinks Horton is crazy, especially the Sour Kangaroo (portrayed with conviction by Players newcomer Jennifer Massey) and the naughty monkey Wickersham Brothers. But Horton is determined to help whoever’s calling to him, because “A person’s a person, no matter how small.”

His endeavor takes us to Whoville, where we meet the Mayor and his wife, aka JoJo’s parents (nicely played by Joe Hunter and Bonnie Schiavone). But he’s also sidetracked by an episode with the Circus McGurkus, thanks in part to the irresponsible bird Mayzie (Channing Weir, in a confident performance), who tricks him into watching over her unhatched egg. Throw in the warmongering General Schmitz, the Grinch that stole you-know-what, and a boatload of ensemble characters and you’ve got a stage swarming with lively fun.

Besides the outstanding work by Fisher, Trinci, Weir and others, Seussical also boasts a wealth of suitably Seusslike costumes by Kaylene McCaw that help bring all these characters to vivid life, plus clever staging from the original (well rendered by director/choreographer Trisolini) on complex but seemingly easy numbers like the black-light staging of Havin’ a Hunch or providing the action-packed atmosphere of the circus.  There are sweet moments, too, like the wistful Solla Sollew and Alone in the Universe.

Take a kid, a grandkid, or heck, just go by yourself, and remember those Seuss moments you thought you’d forgotten. Seussical is onstage through Nov. 6; call 365-2494 or go to

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