By Alison Landeros
On my bookshelf sit three of my favorite books by Dr. Seuss: Oh, the Places You’ll Go, The Lorax,and The Sneetches and Other Stories. Imagine my excitement when I heard that Book-It Repertory Theatre was producing two of these as a children’s play!
Book-It’s production of The Lorax & The Sneetches and Other Stories, which I saw at Shoreline Community College on March 24 and which has three more public showings in April and May, is a playful and lighthearted take on two of Seuss’ most beloved works. The Lorax’s message of environmental preservation and anti-consumerism and the Sneetches’ cautionary tale of the senselessness of discrimination have resounded with progressive audiences for decades.
Book-it Theatre presents us with the opportunity to share these messages with our children in a truly living way. At less than an hour long and jam-packed with silliness, even the squirmiest child in attendance is able to (mostly) stay tuned in to the show. Erin Stewart, Ben Burris, and Gavin Cummins comprise the cast of three, each playing five or six characters.
A highlight of the show occurred before the play even began: One of the three cast members came onstage to walk the children through an exercise in which they were all asked to think about conflicts they have had with someone in their lives, and to whisper these conflicts up into the air so that they floated above the audience during the play. This provided wonderful imagery to help the kids in the audience participate in the messages presented in a way that was meaningful to them.
Parents be warned, though: As the performance commenced, it was immediately apparent that we were in for a very silly hour of Seussing. Book-It’s production is true to the text of the books and retains its meaningful messaging, but this show definitely caters to the younger child, with high-pitched voices, melodrama, wiggling and a large dose of potty humor.
One example: During the "Too Many Daves" segment from The Sneetches, a woman lists all of the names she wishes she had named her 23 sons (rather than Dave). One of these names is "Stinky," and he is depicted by a character propelled around the stage by his flatulence (!).
There are three more performances in April and May, so if you love Dr. Seuss and want to share this show with your child, you’ll have the opportunity to do so in a few weeks. Each is a Family Fun performance that combines a performance with a craft beforehand and a follow-up workshop.
The show I attended was sponsored by the Shoreline-Lake Forest Park Arts Council as part of its annual Children’s Series. Four times per year, this group offers families the opportunity to attend affordable, quality productions from local drama groups (all seats are only $7). The next show, coming up on April 14, is a performance by SANCA, Seattle’s own School of Acrobatics and New Circus Arts. The June 23 offering is a countrified take on a fairytale classic, Beauty Lou and the Country Beast, from Missoula Children’s Theater.
If you go:
When: Three Saturdays: April 28, May 5, May 12; 10:30 a.m.
Other activities: At these Family Fun Day performances, a performance-related craft starts at 10:30 a.m.; the performance is at 11 a.m.; and a workshop called "Themes in Motion" follows the performance, where educators help students explore the themes of greed, prejudice, stubbornness, and environmentalism.
Where: Book-it Repertory Theatre at the Center House Theater, Seattle
Prices: $10 for kids; $12 for adults
Tickets and information: Book-It.org under the “Family Fun Series” tab
When: School of Acrobatics and New Circus Arts, April 14, 11 a.m. Beauty Lou, June 23, 1 p.m. and 5 p.m*
Where: Shoreline Community College Theater, Shoreline
Tickets and information: shorelinearts.net
*Beauty Lou and the Country Beast will be part of this year’s Shoreline Arts Festival.