Try It, You’ll Like It! Seussical Jr. at YAAL

by Paige Allison

“I do not like Green Eggs and Ham, I do not like them Sam I am.” of the most famous and widely quoted Dr. Seuss lines of all time. We all know how the book ends. “Try them, try them and you’ll see…”

So tried it I did and I am glad that I went. Youth Actors Academy of Lincoln (YAAL) gave this production 100 percent. “SAY! I DO like green eggs and ham!” Seussical Jr. at YAAL is a wonderful venue to try and you WILL like it!

Whether you read the books to a child or they were read to you, the references in this musical adaptation are familiar and delightfully engaging. The physical comedy and pointed asides to the audience charmed and elicited laughter that Theodore Geisel himself may not have imagined.

Let me begin at the beginning. The beginning is where it’s at. The story is propelled by the cat in the famous hat, played by Avery Kirkland. With a large cast of 31 (nearly half of whom had never tried theatre before), there are an even more impressive 34 musical numbers. All of the actors, singers, and dancers in the ensemble are between the ages of 7 and 13. To impress you further, know this… Their entire show was rehearsed over 8 Saturdays. Now you know raw numbers, add Thing One and Thing Two, Mayzie la Bird and a sour kangaroo. There is enough raw talent on that stage to power a Broadway show someday!

The show follows Horton, played by Hannah Kellas, through the familiar story of saving the Whos of Whoville. Of course, in our beloved story only Horton can hear them, but the audience is treated to seeing and hearing them as well. The most notable Who, Jo Jo (Jack McCormick) belts out each number with purity and power in his voice. Katie Timmer’s Gertrude McFuzz is supported by a flock of adorable birds as they dance and sing through unique numbers, such as “One Tail Feather” and “Amazing Gertrude.” The moving “Alone in the Universe” and its reprisal sung by Horton, Jo Jo Gertrude, and the Cat, along with new music to familiar titles make this musical a fun flashback to childhood.

Directing an ensemble cast in such a short time is a welcome challenge for the energetic team at YAAL. Director Christina Docter, Assistant Director and Choreographer Michelle Ingle, and Music Director Hannah Segura must have their hands full! Stage Manager Fred Vogel is also responsible for the set design that appears to place the cast inside a Dr. Seuss book. Curt Bright and Kenzie Mattox round out the production crew with set artistry and lighting technology, respectively.

The original Seussical: the Musical runs approximately two and a half hours. The difference with the abridged “Jr” version is a run time of approximately an hour and a half, allowing for your little ones to be home and tucked in bed by 9 pm. Small children and adults alike will enjoy the color, commotion, the song and dance, the humorous references that only the grownups will get, and the story that all of us love. YAAL does more than delight their audience with familiar references and an uncannily familiar set.

“Every single day these kids come with a bucket full of new ideas. They are constantly creating and it just totally juices me up as well! They’re are absolutely so much fun to work with. Seriously, every day’s an adventure!” Docter’s energy as a director is relatable to the creative minds she is nurturing. There seems to be a great collaborative effort taking place at YAAL, which offers weekday classes as well as its regular production season. What better way to introduce a child to the arts and ignite a passion for theatre! Enroll a child in their weekday classes. Bring a child to the show or be a child in the audience. It is definitely worth your price of admission to bring the family this weekend. YAAL is inspiring a new generation of performing artists. After two rousing company musical numbers at the end of the show, that inspiration is apparent in the joy in their faces at curtain call. “A person’s a person, no matter how small.” Apparently that’s true for actors at YAAL!

Check out this video from reviewer Paige Allison! She talks with Youth Actors Academy of Lincoln (YAAL) Director Christina Docter and Stage Manager/Set Designer Fred Vogel on the gorgeous set of Seussical Jr., which she promises is an energy-filled production that will take you right back to your childhood!

If you go: Remaining performances of Seussical Jr. are October 12 at 2:00 PM and 7:00 PM and October 13 at 2:00 PM and 6:00 PM, at Youth Actors Academy of Lincoln (1233 Libra Drive). Tickets are available online and before the shows (depending on availability).

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