Seussical the Musical
by J*Company

Horton is hearing voices, but are they real voices or does he just think he hears them? The lives of all the Whos down in Whoville depend on him believing in them and protecting them, as their precarious existence on a tiny speck of dust grows more precarious by the moment when the other animals of the Jungle of Nool decide Horton is nuts and that his precious speck has got to go. Will Horton risk everything to save these tiny people only he can hear and nobody can see?

There’s no doubt about that! Loyalty and self-sacrifice are what Dr. Seuss’s Horton the Elephant is all about, making him the perfect character on which to base Seussical the Musical. This fun and heartwarming show has recently been made available to local theatres, and our local theatres are pouncing on it. With a great story, memorable characters culled from a variety of Dr. Seuss books, and a fantastic musical score by Lynn Ahrens and Stephen Flaherty (Ragtime, Once on This Island), it’s a guaranteed crowd pleaser.

Under the direction of Becky Cherlin Baird, the youth at La Jolla’s J*Company are putting on an entertaining, creative, and impressive production of this tribute to San Diego’s own Dr. Seuss (a.k.a. Theodore Geisel whose widow Audrey Geisel still lives in La Jolla). Vibrant and stylish costumes by Shulamit Nelson help bring to life the enchanted world of singing jungle animals and tiny Whos, while an exceptional cast gives the characters a lot of character.

In the case of Jesse Bradley, he actually becomes several characters as the one-and-only Cat in the Hat, narrating our journey through Seuss-land and popping up here and there as several other quirky little characters, doing it all with great charisma and flair (and some impressive juggling). It is the Cat who gets little JoJo, a highly imaginative little boy, to start thinking all the thinks he can think, giving birth to the wonderful worlds presented onstage. The young but already seasoned Joe Metcalf has the adorable look of a young dreamer and a great voice to go with it, all of which we really get to enjoy as he takes a bubble bath in a tub that becomes McElligot’s Pool.

The storybook characters include, of course, Horton himself, here played by Tim Roberts whose grounded performance simply exudes genuine loyalty and unwavering concern for those who aren’t able to help themselves including the poor Whos and a certain bird’s egg that he gets tricked into sitting atop. His duet with JoJo Alone in the Universe and the lullaby Solla Sollew that he leads the cast in are some of the most mesmerizing moments of the show. Up-and-coming star Kari Campbell stars as Horton’s neighbor and admirer, the sweet bird-next-door named Gertrude McFuzz with a plain one-feathered tail that simply wasn’t meant to catch the eye of an elephant. With a lovably dorky and expressive voice perfect for the character (virtually identical to the Broadway cast album), a great sense of humor, and cute facial expressions, Kari is a hit throughout including her unusual love songs The One-Feather Tail of Miss Gertrude McFuzz, Notice Me Horton, and All For You.

Other standouts include Eboni Muse as the Sour Kangaroo who can belt out her disparagement of Horton like nobody’s business (seconded by Stephanie Neifeld as her Young Kangaroo with a lot of attitude and a great voice to boot). Bethany Slomka shines as the selfish and vain Mayzie LaBird as she dupes Horton into sitting on her nest. Tiffany Jane is a riot as JoJo’s totally soccer mom-ish mom who with her mayor husband (Sam Creely) can’t quite understand their daydreaming son, eventually sending him off to military school. There poor JoJo is faced with General Samantha Greenstone who has eyes that you can’t take your eyes off of as they say a million things to her recruits – mostly some form of deep disapproval. The great ensemble includes six Bird Girls who help the Cat narrate the story, the six bully Wickersham Brother monkeys who monkey around with Horton and the Whos, and the most adorable and enthusiastic little Whos you can imagine.

Due to lack of tech time in the theatre there were a few lighting and timing problems on opening night, though no doubt solved by now, and the cast easily worked through and overcame such glitches to put on a tremendous show with great costumes, sets, a magnificent ensemble, and some creative little additions like having a real Young Kangaroo and a real little girl in the part of the “Elephant Bird” played by the adorable Halle Hoffman. How lucky we are to have had Dr. Seuss to inspire it all!

Performs through November 7, 2004.

Rob Hopper
National Youth Theatre

~ Cast ~

Cat in the Hat: Jesse Bradley
Horton: Tim Roberts
JoJo: Joe Metcalf
Gertrude: Kari Campbell
Mayzie: Bethany Slomka
Sour Kangaroo: Eboni Muse
Young Kangaroo: Stephanie Neifeld
Mr. Mayor: Sam Creely
Mrs. Mayor: Tiffany Jane
General Genghis Kahn Shmitz: Samantha Greenstone
Yertle the Turtle: Samantha Greenstone
Elephant Bird: Halle Hoffman

Bird Girls:
Jennifer Bendelstein
Laura Cain
Elizabeth Kreutz
Anne Metcalf
Dawn Powell
Meagan Rossin

Mary Bozigian
Christine Hillman
Perry Lee
Emily Mann
Addie McKinley
Victoria Tecca

Citizens of the Jungle:
Ashley Abed
Alejandra Jimenez
Zoe Katz
Allison Steitz 
Stefan Wendel

Megan Evans
Adam Faison
Justin Gleiberman
Beth Jacobs
Danielle Levin
Mady Maio
Charlotte Ostrow
Lindsey Schwartz
Lindesy Steinert
Adina Wollner

Nicole Athill
Alice Cash
Joanne Edelstein
Zoe Eprile
Danielle Gardner
Heather Gillies
Jacqueline Gillies
Elisa Greenberg
Michelle Guefen
Nicole Heillbrun
Halle Hoffman
Margaret Izotov
Jess Jacobs
Lindsey Jacobs
Mara Jacobs
Sam Jacobs
Tali Maio
Austyn Myers
Megan Phillips
Matthew Schaerer
Joshua Shtein
Celia Tedde
Gabi Turner
Nathan Wetter
Alec Willerman

Circus Performers:
Joanne Edlestein
Zoe Eprile
Nicole Heilbrunn
Halle Hoffman
Jess Jacobs
Austyn Myers
Matthew Schaerer
Lindsey Steinert
Allison Steitz

Director/Choreographer/Music Director: Becky Cherlin Baird
Choreographer: Jodie Bowman
Stage Manager: Avalon Hernandez
Set Design: Heidi Atchison
Lighting Design: Jason Beiberman
Costume Design: Shulamit Nelson
Sound Design: Tom Jones


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