It’s Stephen Flaherty and Lynn Ahrens’ Seussical the Musical, bringing the magical world of Seuss alive on the stage using the stories of Horton the Elephant as the primary plot while mixing in gazoogles of other Seuss characters, doing it all with some great music and a fun script. It’s a show ripe for any company and character actors to have fun with, and it’s clear from the beginning that Director Joseph DeMonico and the folks at the John Cooper School are going to have fun with this one which takes place inside their new, beautiful, state-of-the-art theatre.

That’s when the curious little boy JoJo (Rebecca Schwartz) sees his bedroom comes to life – the bed, the bookshelves, the dresser, and the toys are ensemble members or are being pushed around by the cast. And before the kid knows it, he’s talking with the ever-mischievous Cat in the Hat who wants to use JoJo’s imagination to imagine a story of Horton the Elephant who hears whos on a tiny speck of dust that no one can see and only he can hear. Before poor JoJo knows it, he’s being pushed down a slide to become part of the story itself – the tiny boy who who will have to save whoville or come to a bubbly end in a hot, steamy kettle of beezlenut oil.

Flinging him into the story is the talented Whitney Brandt as the Cat in the Hat. With charisma, flair, and humor, she keeps things unpredictable and flying along. She takes her torture of poor Horton seriously and whimsically while he’s helplessly stuck on a nest, proves to be an excellent auctioneer, drenches the audience with her tears (and the aid of a spray bottle), and kicks off the second act with a huge solo song-and-dance act that proves her to be a serious triple threat (then drags an unsuspecting audience member up to the stage to make him mimic her flamboyant act, kicking him off the stage when she’s through with him).

Ranjeet Paul is a kind and sensitive Horton who sings a soothing rendition of the lullaby Solla Sollew and almost notices the pitiful tweet of his bird-next-door Gertrude as she sings to him (he cocks his head, then goes on searching for his missing whos). Delivering that pitiful tweet is Emily Jacobson as a fun and quirky and melodramatic and pitiful Gertrude. Her personality opposite comes by way of Mayzie LaBird, the one who tricks Horton into sitting on her egg, with Nisha Balsara charming as the vain and self-centered and Amazing Mayzie who has a testy relationship while sunning herself on the beach with Jose (The Cat in the Hat) who is fanning her with a palm frond a little too annoyingly. Also generally annoyed is the Sour Kangaroo and the Young Kangaroo in her pouch, with Caitlin O’Neill and Margie McGregor giving us some big voices and big attitude, even after they soften at the end (when Horton tells Gertrude he’s slow and he’s fat, the Sour Kangaroo nods to her Young Kangaroo).

They’ve set the show in 1920s New York, with Scenic Designer Jon Shelledy doing fantastic work with the bedroom and the Jungle of Nool (Central Park). The illusion is further enhanced with the work of Costume Designer Elizabeth DeMonico and her team that deigned all sorts of incredible costumes including some stylish society dresses for the narrating Bird Girls, good period suit-and-vest outfits for the thuggish Wickersham Brothers, Horton as an old-time gas station attendant (a rag hanging out the back pocket for a tail), and the whos as little nerds dressed in yellow with flowers along the skirt edging. Those timid and amusing who nerds huddle together like glue (when you’re that small, you’re no doubt safer in numbers), even doing their bows huddled together. Rae Moses conducts the live school orchestra that does a nice job with the score. And adding the final touches are some lovely lighting touches that illuminate flying bathtubs, mermaids, scary hunches, a circus complete with poodles and cirque du soleil ribbon dancers, and all sorts of wonders dreamed up by Dr. Seuss.

Performs November 13 - 16, 2008

Rob Hopper
Executive Director
National Youth Theatre

~ Cast ~
Horton: Ranjeet Paul
Cat in the Hat: Whitney Brandt
Mayzie: Nisha Balsara
Gertrude: Emily Jacobson
JoJo: Rebecca Schwartz
Sour Kangaroo: Caitlin O'Neill
Young Kangaroo: Margie McGregor
Mr. Mayor: Mark Farley
Mrs. Mayor: Madison Cagle
Schmitz: Spencer Summers
Wickersham #1: Jim Brock
Wickersham #2: Alex Novak
Wickersham #3: Michael Taylor
Bird Girls:
Caitlin Lashier
Angie Lopez-Videla
Graham Browning
Kelly Zupan
Grinch: Cory Guinn
Vlad Vladkioff: Holden Tikkanen
Yertl the Turtle: Cody Guinn
Madeleine Anderson
Meredith Bechtel
Annabelle Cousins
Linda D'Arezzo
Hope Dobelman
Megan Doyle
Caitlin Finnie
Megan Fricke
Allison Lindsay
Michelle Manceor
Margie McGregor
Kathryn Meyer
Alessandro Portela
Merlene Robertson
Emilyl Schwartz
Ben Shapiro
James Tawney
Elyana Thierry
Neha Verma
Melissa Wong

Director: Joseph DeMonico
Choreographer: Elizabeth DeMonico
Music Director: Donna Arnold
Band Conductor: Bob Scannell
Scenic Artist: Rod Flower
Audio Video Coordinator: Troy Dingle
Pianist/Conductor: Rae Moses
Scenic Designer: Jon Shelledy


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