What ‘The Sneetches’ teaches

Reed Sigmund and Natalie Tran in Dr. Seuss’s The Sneetches The Musical // Photo by Dan Norman

Dr. Seuss may have published “The Sneetches and Other Stories” back in 1961, but the Children’s Theatre Company’s musical adaptation “Dr. Seuss’s The Sneetches The Musical” proves the short story is still as relevant as ever.

Composed by David Mallamud, written by Philip Dawkins, and directed by Peter C. Brosius, the Children’s Theatre Company’s inventive theatrical performance delivers a stage full of yellow-bodied Sneetches singing whimsical and wonky tunes and conversing in Seussian language.

Bradley Greenwald as Sylvester McMonkey McBean Dr. Seuss’s The Sneetches The Musical // Photo by Dan Norman

But underlying this quirky world is a serious and literal divide between the Sneetches on Sneetch Beach: On one side are the elite Star Bellies; The Plain Bellies on the other half. With division, comes discrimination. But when the trickster, Sylvester McMonkey McBean, arrives with his Star-On and Star-Off Machine and Sneetches start switching from group to group, they begin to question their differences. Who’s better than whom now? Stars upon thars or Sneetches without?

Plain Belly Ensemble of Dr. Seuss’s The Sneetches The Musical // Photo by Dan Norman

The music is upbeat and playful, and the immense talent of the cast is crystal clear. Natalie Tran shines as one of the play’s main protagonists, Standlee, a curiously feisty Star-Bellied Sneetch who doesn’t quite fit in with her predetermined posse. Trying to make friends, she runs into Diggitch, played by CTC seasoned veteran Reed Sigmund, an older Plain-Bellied Sneetch. While their interactions had the audience roaring with laughter, issues of tolerance, diversity, identity, and prejudice, and the quest to find unity within society, structure the play.

While these motifs are heavy and complex, the Children’s Theatre propels Dr. Seuss’s parable into an enjoyably thought-provoking, lighthearted, and energetic show—from Maudge’s rock star holler to Gramlee’s entertaining wisecracks and every Sneetch (starred or not) in between.

Star Belly Cast of Dr. Seuss’s The Sneetches The Musical // Photo by Dan Norman

The show runs around two hours, in addition to a 15-minute intermission. “Dr. Seuss’s The Sneetches The Musical” runs through March 26; tickets are available here.

 
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