The Children's Theatre Company has a long and successful history of producing new works inspired by Dr. Seuss. This time they are working with The Old Globe in partnership with The Old Vic to bring the tale of The Lorax to life on their main stage. The show is without a doubt a hit and the perfect show to open on Earth Day weekend. The tale, for those who are not familiar is told by the Once-ler, a grumpy creature living at the top of a tower. He tells the story of his life, starting as a creative boy who was instilled with the value of monetary success and was kicked out of his home at a young age to find a new place. He found it in a beautiful valley, a paradise filled with Truffula Trees, tall trees with soft tufted tops. He decides to use the tops of the tree as knitting material and in order to reach the top chops down the tree. The Lorax appears, telling him that he speaks for the trees and that there is no need to chop down the trees, everything that he needs is all around him. The Once-ler agrees but after realizing that the things that he knits (which he calls thneeds) are a marketable hit his greed gets the best of him as he continues to cut down countless trees. It is a story about the importance of environmentalism and the dangers of capitalism (which is why the book has been banned in the past). As the story nears its conclusion, with the land that was once a paradise now bare and polluted, the story looks grim, but it is able to end with a glimmer of hope and the word 'unless'. "Unless someone like you cares a whole awful lot, Nothing is going to get better, it's not."
This is a big story for a young audience but David Greig has adapted the show wonderfully. The music and lyrics by Charles Fink contributes a lot to the story. The entire ensemble builds the world of the Lorax and the valley as it changes. All of the actors on stage play multiple characters with the exception of Steven Epp who portrays the Once-ler. He manages the balance of the Once-ler's love of the paradise that he has landed in and his greed wonderfully. It is easy to hate the actions that the Once-ler takes but it is harder to hate the Once-ler himself thanks to Epp's performance. The title character the Lorax is portrayed by a puppet, voiced by H. Adam Harris and operated by Harris, Meghan Kreidler and Rick Miller. These three puppeteers are a wonder to watch, they move together as a seamless unit bringing the Lorax to life.
With The Lorax the Children's Theatre is not only introducing children to the magical world of live theater (watching the young audience experience theater is always my favorite part of the visit to the Children's Theatre), it is also introducing a young audience to environmentalism. A movement that is sure to be very important in their lifetimes.
The Lorax is playing at the Children's Theater until June 10th and is sure to win the hearts of kids and adults alike.
Click here for more information about the show.
*Photo by Dan Norman