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The wubbulous world of Dr. Seuss

A mélange of characters from the celebrated books of Dr. Seuss are brought to life in "Seussical the Musical," an extravaganza with music and words by songwriting team Lynn Ahrens and Stephen Flaherty.

Craterian Performances and the Children's and Teen musical theaters of Oregon will present a professionally staged production of Ahrens' and Flaherty's Grammy Award-nominated musical, with shows set for 7:30 p.m. Thursday and Friday, Aug. 19-20, and 3 p.m. Saturday, Aug. 21, at the Craterian Ginger Rogers Theater, 23 S. Central Ave., Medford.

"We have 60 cast members ages 7 through 19 in this production," says John Taylor, musical director for both acting companies. "It's a great blend of stories from Seuss books with a catchy Broadway score and beautiful costumes."

The story centers around Horton the Elephant, who finds himself faced with a double challenge. Not only must he protect his tiny friend Jojo — and all of the invisible Whos — from a world of naysayers and dangers, he also must guard an abandoned egg, left in his care by the irresponsible Mayzie La Bird.

The show offers humor, laughs and gentle pulls to the heartstrings with songs, such as "Amayzing Mayzie," "Amayzing Gertrude" and "Alone in the Universe" from "Horton Hatches the Egg." Other tunes take the audience from "The Jungle of Nool" to "If I Ran the Circus."

Though Horton faces ridicule, danger, kidnapping and a trial throughout the musical, his kind and his powerful heart triumphs over all.

"Seussical" premiered in 2000 at the Richard Rodgers Theatre in New York City. After its Broadway run, the production made two national tours and one in the United Kingdom. The show has become a favorite for schools and community and regional theaters.

"Seussical" opens and closes with the uplifting "Oh, the Thinks You Can Think" sung by the entire company, a song that lets the audience know that life can be whatever you want.

"We like to think that we are bringing young performers of a professional caliber to our shows," says Taylor.

Taylor and his wife, Rhonda Taylor, founded the youth musical-theater program in 2005. Since then, the program has been adopted by Craterian Performances.

"We hold productions in the spring and summer, and we have a holiday show," says Taylor. The musical-theater programs have been so successful that a Halloween show will be added this year.

For the Craterian production of "Seussical," Taylor took the best from the original score and infused his own ideas into the orchestration.

"There are so many musical styles in the score that I was able to draw from much of my experience with notables, such as Jennifer Lopez, R&B band DeBarge and Cirque du Soleil," says Taylor.

While so much of the plot centers on Horton, the show also features characters and scenarios from many Seuss books, including "The Butter Battle Book" and "Gertrude McFuzz." Though none of the story of "The Cat in the Hat" is in "Seussical," the character acts as narrator and devil's advocate.

The original Broadway choreography was adapted by Meghan McCandless and Cailen McCandless. Costume design is by Sue Quackenbush, lighting by Brad Nelson, set by Daniel Haskett and sound by Shawn Insall.

Tickets cost $18, $9 for ages 18 and younger and are available at the Craterian box office, by calling 541-779-3000 or online at www.craterian.org.

Cate Adams (left) and Madeline Day strike a pose as Sour Kangaroo and Young Kangaroo during a rehearsal of 'Seussical the Musical.' - Photo by Jamie Lusch