Theatre Mirror Reviews-"Seussical"

THE THEATER MIRROR, New England's LIVE Theater Guide


"What Happened in Boston, Willie"

entire contents copyright 2014 by Tony Annicone


Reviewed by Tony Annicone

Uncommon Theatre's 35th season fall production is "Seussical, the Musical", which creates the witty, wild and whimsical world of Dr. Seuss. It reveals a world 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 original 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 famous stories and characters in unexpected ways. The Tony Award winning team of Lynn Ahrens and Stephen Flaherty who wrote "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 to Jo-Jo of the Who's and 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 Michael Hammond and musical director Paula Bishop bring this amazing and fantastic high energy show to life with topnotch 45 member cast, colorful sets and costumes, making it a must see show of the fall season.

Michael brings out the best in his cast and Paula leads a topnotch 14 piece orchestra while playing lead keyboards. Leading this large and talented cast is Izzy Johnson as the Cat in the Hat. She commands the stage with her dynamic portrayal of this mischievous character. Izzy's many different accents are hilarious and her interactions with the other cast members is astounding. Her singing voice is powerful whether she is singing to the audience or to the other characters. Izzy plays the part of the newscaster, the quack doctor and the circus owner. She leads the cast in many numbers including the opening number "Oh the Thinks You Can Think" which tells the others to be imaginative and think for themselves. It turns into a huge dance number. Izzy also does a vaudeville type number called "How Lucky You Are" which tells you to be satisfied with what you have in your lives and "Havin' a Hunch" with Jo-Jo to make him think to find his way back home. Jackson Flaherty is the 11 year old boy who plays Jo-Jo. His acting is topnotch and his voice is crystal clear, insuring you understand every lyric and line he utters. Some of Jackson's songs include "It's Possible" which begins as a solo with him in the bathtub then turns into a chorus number with lots of fish used during it, "Alone in the Universe", a ballad sung with Horton and "Havin' a Hunch" which he sings with the Cat and the chorus on how Jo-Jo can return home. The third leading player is the talented Joe Spirito as Horton. Dressed as an elephant, he dances up a storm while his acting ability endears you to the tender-hearted Horton. His philosophy is a person is a person no matter how small. Joe has a beautiful tenor voice which he displays in many numbers including "Horton Hears a Who", "Alone in the Universe" with Jackson 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. The "Solla Sollew" number that he sings brings tears to your eyes at his tender rendition.

Camryn MacIver plays Gertrude McFuzz, a bird who is in love with Horton. She only has one tail feather but with the help of a quack doctor keeps growing more and more feathers. Camryn does  a marvelous job as this insecure bird who finally helps Horton by being herself again. Some of her wonderful numbers include "The One Tail Feather of Gertrude McFuzz", "Notice Me Horton" and "All for You" where she admits everything she has done is because she loves Horton. The flamboyant bird Mayzie is played as a sexy vamp by Olivia Fonseca who leaves her egg with Horton so she can take a vacation in Palm Beach. She sings "Amayzing Mayzie", a Latin number, "How Lucky" with the Cat and "Amayzing Horton" when she leaves her egg with him. The Bird girls played by Amelia Kirshon, Brooke Leifer, Emily Michienzie, Victoria Newton, Nicole Spirito and Andrea Stebbins are terrific vocalists. Another dynamic vocalist is Samantha Murphy as the Sour Kangaroo. Her powerful voice is heard in the gospel song "Biggest Blame Fool", "Chasing the Whos" and "The People Vs. Horton, the Elephant" and her acting is hilarious as this argumentative character.

Other comical characters include Ben Reingold and Maya Blodgett as the not too bright parents of Jo-Jo, who send him off to war and they sing "Here on Who", "Chasing the Whos" and the prettiest ballad in the show "Solla Sollew" which they sing with Horton and the chorus. Cole Hovey plays the mean and crazy General who leads the children in "Green Eggs and Ham" and Julia Mullert as Yertle, the Turtle who is the judge in the courtroom song.  A big round of applause to everyone who bring these larger than life characters to life. So for a fun filled trip back to the land of Dr. Seuss and many happy childhood memories for both children and adults, be sure to catch "Seussical" by Uncommon Theatre at the Orpheum Theatre in Foxboro.

"Seussical" (21 - 23 November)
@ Orpheum Theatre, 1 School Street, FOXBORO MA

THE THEATER MIRROR, New England's LIVE Theater Guide