Theatre Mirror Reviews-"Seusical The Musical"

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entire contents copyright 2015 by Tony Annicone

"Seusical The Musical"

Reviewed by Tony Annicone

Hendricken's fall show this year is "Seussical, the Musical" which creates the witty, wild and whimsical world of Dr. Seuss, It reveals where anything is possible from an elephant in a tree, to a person too tiny to see, to a heroic child and dreams running wild. The show is a magical, musical world where helping a friend, never giving up and keeping a promise comes true. The show first opened on November 30, 2000 and ran for 198 performances. It is a re-imagining of Dr. Seuss, which weaves many of his famous stories and characters in unexpected ways. The Tony Award winning team of Lynn Ahrens and Stephen Flaherty ("Ragtime" and "Once on this Island") created the book and the score that includes pop, gospel, blues and R&B numbers. The storyline begins with the Cat in the Hat appearing to start the show off with a bang. He takes JoJo of the Whos on a madcap journey. When chaos erupts in the Jungle of Nool, it will take the Cat, Horton, the Elephant, Gertrude McFuzz and a whole gaggle of characters to bring harmony back to the world. Director Richie Sylvia brings this fantastic and amazing show to life with energetic choreography by David Weeks which keeps the audience spellbound all night long.

Richie blocks his cast wonderfully and casts the best performers in their roles, creating the wonderful world of Dr. Seuss in this very theatre. Richie also taught the cast the vast array of songs they sing. Sean Donnelly conducts a fifteen piece orchestra. The colorful two story set and the multitude of colorful costumes are by Carrie Devanney. Adam Ramsey's gorgeous multicolored lighting of the show is amazing, too. The dance numbers created by David Weeks fit this crazy and fantastical world of make believe with high energy that it makes the audience want to join them. Leading this huge and talented cast is Francis Brissette as the Cat in the Hat. He commands the stage with excellent characterization and strong singing voice. Francis makes entrances and exits all around the theatre and on the set. He leads the cast in many numbers including the opening number "Oh the Thinks You Can Think" encouraging everyone to think for themselves which eventually turns into a big dance number and in the vaudeville style song "How Lucky You Are" where you are encouraged to enjoy what you have in your life. Francis is dynamite in this role. He plays the crazy doctor and a TV reporter, too Bravo!

Emily Fielding is JoJo and is amazing, too. She has a strong voice and natural acting ability in this role. Some of JoJo's songs include "It's Possible" which starts off as a solo in the bathtub and builds into a chorus number, "Alone in the Universe" which is a pretty ballad sung with Horton and "Havin' a Hunch" which is a rousing number with the Cat and the entire company on how JoJo can return home. The third leading player in this show is Jordan Carvalhal as Horton, the Elephant. He is a triple threat performer and is immediately likable as this character and his philosophy "A person's a person, no matter how small." Jordan has a warm and winning presence while singing with a superb tenor voice in "Horton Hears a Who", "Alone in the Universe" and "How Lucky You Are" reprise with Mayzie and the Cat. Horton shows how to be a true friend even after being captured and put in a circus while sitting in a tree trying to hatch Mayzie's egg.

Bryn Martin plays Gertrude McFuzz who is in love with Horton. She only has one tail feather but with the help of a quack doctor, she takes pills to make her tail grow and grow and grow. Bryn does a great job as the insecure bird who finally helps Horton by being herself again. Some of her songs include "The One Feather Tail of Miss Gertrude McFuzz", "Notice Me Horton", and "All for You" where she finally admits her love for Horton. Her back up singers are Lily Brewster, Alisha Ciunci, Sophie Gregory and Madeline Morin and are called the Bird Girls who are dynamite singers and dancers reminiscent of the Andrews Sisters or the Supremes. Another strong vocalist is Madelyn Dutilly as Mayzie LaBird who leaves her egg with Horton so she can spend time in Palm Beach. One of her songs is "Amayzing  Mayzie" which is a Latin number where she does a samba with the Bird Girls. Madison Leon as Sour Kangaroo knocks your socks off with her fabulous belting gospel voice which soars off the charts in "Biggest Blame Fool", "Chasing the Whos" and "The People Versus Horton, the Elephant." Her sidekick Young Kangaroo played by Juliette Hoernle has a strong voice, too.

Other comic performers are Giancarlo Gentili and Michaela Vieira as the Mayor of Whoville and Mrs. Mayor. They are hoots as the not too bright parents of JoJo. They lead the singing in "Here on Who", "Chasing the Whos", "The Whos Christmas Pageant" and "Solla Sollew", the most touching and sentimental ballad in the show.Three other comic performers include Matthew Beaune as General who leads an unnecessary war, Stephen Lee as Yertle, the Turtle who is the judge at the trial and Brendan Lawrence as the Grinch who hates the Christmas Pageant. Kudos to all the hard working performers and crew members who make this a show to be very proud of. So for a trip back to the land of Dr. Seuss if you are an adult or a first time trip to this magical place, be sure to catch "Seussical, the Musical" at Hendricken before time runs out.

"Seussical the Musical" (3 - 6 December)
@ 2615 Warwick Avenue, WARWICK RI

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