Seussical! the Musical -- On the face of it, the charmingly rhythmic tales written by Dr. Seuss would seem natural for a musical. But this show falls well short of earning its exclamation point, despite the earnest efforts of the Beck Center company. When Seuss's original loopy rhymes are jammed into the composition machine by Lynn Ahrens (lyrics) and Stephen Flaherty (music), the result is an oddly charmless collection of tunes that rarely rise above the banal. The show's authors never capture the giddy bounce of Dr. Seuss's language, so almost inevitably, director Scott Spence's production is desperately short on whimsy. The central role of the Cat in the Hat is played by talented Marc Moritz more as a self-satisfied tummler at a Catskills resort than as the zany, borderline anarchist Seuss created. Adding to the dour atmosphere is scenic designer Richard Gould's neo-industrial erector set, which offers few of the swoops and curlicues so prevalent in Geisel's art. Perhaps the lesson is clear: Dr. Seuss is perfect, just as he is -- on the pages of books, in the hands of kids. Through January 2 at Beck Center, 17801 Detroit Ave., Lakewood, 216-521-2540. -- Howey
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