Theatre Mirror Reviews - "Seussical The Musical"

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entire contents copyright 2005 by Tony Annicone

"Seussical The Musical"

Reviewed by Tony Annicone

Bay Colony's current production is "Seussical, the Musical" which creates the witty, wild and whimsical world of Dr. Seuss. It reveals a world where anything's 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 opened on Broadway on November 30, 2000 and ran for 198 performances. It is a re-imagining of Dr. Seuss, which weaves together many of his most 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 and R&B numbers. The storyline begins with the Cat in the Hat appearing thru a trap door to Jo-Jo of the Whos and he narrates the proceedings. It will take the Cat in the Hat, Horton the Elephant, Gertrude McFuzz and a gaggle of characters to bring harmony back to their world. Director/choreographer, Marianne Lonati and musical director, Rob Goldman bring this fantastic and amazing high energy show to life with excellent casting, colorful sets and fabulous costumes, making this the must see show of this winter season and earning it a well deserved standing ovation, too.

Marianne directs her performers beautifully from start to finish so you know exactly who their characters are. Her blocking is wonderful and her dance numbers are topnotch from the beginning to the end of the show.The dance numbers are so energetic they make you want to join in with the exuberant cast. Marianne's eye for detail shines through to make this an outstanding show. She is aided in her huge task by the talented Rob who not only conducts the splendid sounding orchestra but plays the lead keyboard, too. He also trained the vocalists in their perfect sounding harmonies in their numerous songs. Marianne and Rob's work is of the highest quality and the sets designed by Dan Kozar help to create the magical world of Dr. Seuss. Dan also made 45 costumes for this show which are breathtaking and also plays the Grinch. The backdrop with the stars shining on it which changes colors from scene to scene was designed by Michael Texeira who is the technical director for the show. His fiancee, Jessica Chartoff is the production manager who handles the enormous cast with ease. The numerous props are by Gail Gilman and the scenic artist is Cathy Corcoran. The excellent sound in the show is provided by Ed DiMarzio and Pat Dzierak. Kudos for one of the best shows at the Orpheum Theatre.

Leading this large and outstanding cast is Eliot Dort as the Cat in the Hat. He commands the stage with his dynamic portrayal of this mischievous character. Eliot's many accents are hilarious especially a Spanish one and his singing voice is powerful whether he is interacting with the audience or the characters in the show. He is a whirling dervish who enters through every part of the theater. Eliot leads the cast in many numbers including the opening number "Oh, the Thinks You Can Think" which tells the characters to be imaginative and think for themselves and is a huge dance number, too. He also does a vaudville type song called "How Lucky You Are" which tells you to be satisfied with what you have in your lives. Bravo on a job well done. Katie Miller is the 11 year old girl who plays Jo-Jo. Her acting is topnotch and her singing voice is crystal clear and you can understand every word she says. Some of Katie's songs include "It's Possible" which starts off as a solo with her in the bathtub and builds into a chorus number with multitudes of Gail's props used as fishes, "Alone in the Universe" which is a pretty ballad sung with Horton, and "Havin' a Hunch" which she sings with the Cat and the chorus on how Jo-Jo can return home again. Katie shows a strong stage presence at an early age which will take her far in future theatrical endeavors. The third leading player is the multitalented, Brian Gustafson who plays Horton. Dressed in a gray elephant costume, he dances up a storm while his acting ability endears you to the tender hearted Horton who's philosophy on life is " A person is a person, no matter how small". Brian has a beautiful tenor voice which he displays in many numbers including "Horton Hears a Who", "Alone in the Universe" with Katie and "How Lucky You Are" reprise. His character shows how to be a true friend even after he is captured by hunters, put in a circus and then put on trial for trying to rescue the Whos because no one but Horton can hear them.

Kelly Cavanaugh plays Gertrude McFuzz, a bird who is in love with Horton. She only has one tail feather but with the help of a quack, Swedish doctor played comically by Matt Smith, she takes pills to make her tail grow longer and longer. Kelly does a fantastic job as this insecure bird who finally helps Horton by being herself again. Some of her wonderful numbers include "The One Tail Feather of Miss Gertrude McFuzz", "Notice Me Horton" and "All for You" where she explains everything she has done is because she loves Horton. (The egg finally hatches and a baby elephant bird pops out played by Danielle Lonati who is as cute as a button but delivers her lines like a well seasoned pro.) The flamboyant bird, Mayzie is played as a sexy vamp by Kristin Quartarone who leaves her egg with Horton while she vacations in Palm Beach. She sings "Amayzing Mayzie" a Latin number, "How Lucky" reprise with the Cat and "Amayzing Horton" where she leaves her egg to the elephant. Gertrude and Mayzie's backup singers called the Bird Girls are handled by 3 strong vocalists played by Jeanine Belcastro, Lisa McDonough and Maria Mendes. One of the biggest scene stealers in this show is Jana Sadler as the Sour Kangaroo. Her voice will knock your socks off with her gospel singing in "Biggest Blame Fool", "Chasing the Whos" and "The People Vs. Horton the Elephant" and her acting is hilarious as this argumentative character.

Michael Templeton and Laura Desmarais (with a pink wig) are comical as the not too bright parents who send their child off to the war. They lead the Whos in "Here on Who" where they live on a speck of clover, "Chasing the Whos" where three mischief making monkeys steal the clover from Horton (Dan Kircher, Adam Law and Joe Michienze are hilarious as the harmonizing monkeys with tenor, baritone and bass voices while Jack Ferdman clad in flourescent yellow tights is the vicious eagle, Vlad who steals the clover from them and drops it on purpose) and the prettiest ballad in the show called "Solla Sollew'' which they sing with some of the chorus members and Horton. Other strong soloists in the show include Ray O'Hare as the crazy war loving General who leads the children in "Green Eggs and Ham", Sean Young as Yertle the turtle who is the judge and Chalmbra Houston as the marshall in the courtroom song. A big round of applause for the other hardworking cast members who play these larger than life characters. ( Nicole Cayer plays Jo-Jo and Mark Fitton plays Elephant Bird at alternating shows.) So for a trip back to the land of Dr. Seuss and some wonderful childhood memories in a show for both children and adults, be sure to catch "Seussical, the Musical" at the Orpheum Theater in Foxboro. Tell them Tony sent you.

"Seussical The Musical" ( 21 January - 6 February)
Orpheum Theatre, 1 School Street, Foxboro, MA
1 (508) 543-ARTS

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