Seussical the Musical
by San Diego Junior Theatre

Matthew Bohrer and Jonathan Edzant. Photo by Ken Jacques.In some of the most exciting news about human anthropology made in the last few decades, it has recently been announced that the skeletal remains of human “hobbits” averaging just over three feet tall have been found on an isolated Indonesian island with evidence they likely survived until twelve thousand years ago if not much later. They have scientifically been dubbed Homo floresiensisalthough some have debated whether they should be put in the “Homo” genus at all with its implications that the species was “human,” starkly posing the philosophical question as to whether people are people no matter how small.

As it so happens, the answer to this dilemma is to be found right here in our own Balboa Park where people have been found who are even smaller than the hobbits! For it is there that San Diego Junior Theatre is currently putting on a truly astounding performance of Seussical the Musical – a story based on the books by La Jolla’s beloved, ingenious Dr. Seuss (Theodor Geisel) centered on Horton the Elephant who one day hears the call for help from a bunch of tiny, microscopic Whos living on top of a small speck of dust.

Horton saves them from immediate destruction by catching them and vowing to protect them, but that turns out to be difficult as the indignant beasts in the Jungle of Nool call Horton a fool for believing there are people on the speck, and they try to end all the silliness by putting an end to the Whos. The Whos, meanwhile, have a host of other very “human” problems to deal with from environmental disasters to wars based on questionable motives to people who just simply THINK way too much – people like the imaginative young daydreamer named JoJo who may just hold the fate of the Whos in his outlandish Who-thoughts.

This magical musical by the creative team that wrote Ragtime: The Musical and Once on This Island includes a brilliantly conceived story using a host of Seuss characters and a musical score that is one magical and entertaining number after another. And performing those numbers is an unbelievably talented cast featuring a remarkable array of stunning voices and a whopping amount of comedic talent.

The comedy is led by the gifted Matthew Bohrer as the narrator of our show, the Cat in the Hat, whose hysterical and versatile performance soon had the audience completely in his hands with his confident and natural sense of humor, and including such cameos as a German plastic surgeon, a snooty English auctioneer from “Seussaby’s,” a Big Top announcer, a flaming French assistant to Mayzie, a fiery southern lawyer for the prosecution, and a piano-playing Jimmy Durante.

Emily Shackelford and Brian Polk. Photo by Ken Jacques.And then there’s the rest of this all-star cast. Brian Polk is an amusing Horton the Elephant with his nervous and sincere facial expressions (especially nervous when surrounded by the bully Wickersham Brothers Robert Dowling, Casey Gardner, and lead singer Brian Crum). Emily Shackelford’s humor and body language, along with her beautifully sung quirky love ballads to Horton, are a hit as Horton’s Plain Jane, one-feathered-tail, bird-next-door Gertrude McFuzz who has a crush on the loyal Horton. Jonathan Edzant is an adorable JoJo – the troublesome “thinker” of the Whos who has to think quickly and creatively if they are all to survive this story. Two absolutely phenomenal voices include the vibrant vocal work of Sarah Petrella as the amusing and saucy bad bird Mayzie La Bird and the powerful, soulful resonance of the Sour Kangaroo by the ever-impressive Cailene Kilcoyne, not to mention some fine work by our narrating “Bird Girls” Jackee Bianchi, Leigh Schindler, and Ashley Moore and a quick but striking solo by Hannah Sumner as the honorable Judge Yertle the Turtle who lays down the law.

Elsewhere, Alex Fleming and Carly Toyer are the Who-Mayor and wife, parents of JoJo, who shuffle on and off the stage with a whimsical waddle, Jacob Sampson and Amanda Kleske are used in a variety of hilarious ways throughout the show as Thing 1 and Thing 2 (including finger-snapping bookends of Jimmy Durante’s piano, “raining” on hapless Horton using water rifles, and Keystone Cops trying to steal Horton’s dust speck away), and Anthony Kaneaster is an intimidating General Gengus Schmitz. The ensemble of Whos, jungle animals, and military cadets (as well as some dancing mermaids and frogmen) are an extraordinarily vibrant and talented lot of singers, actors, and dancers moving to Michael Anthony and Brian Zimmer’s fine choreography.

Michael Anthony pulled out all the stops to turn this into a truly professional and spellbinding production. His flashes of brilliance and eye for comedy are everywhere. And on top of directing and choreographing, he also conducts the orchestra which is spot on throughout. Then there are the tremendous talents he brought in to make this one of the most visually stunning shows you’ll see anywhere in San Diego this year, with Tony Cucuzzella’s lavish sets bringing the artistry of Seuss out of the book and onto the stage, all painted with the magical brush of lighting genius Ginger Harris who creates the most enchanting pictures on the stage. And then there are the costumes! Clark Mires again demonstrates his inventiveness and vision with an enormous variety of imaginative costumes that look great both by themselves and together – including a bird tail that extends far beyond the length of the stage. Combined, the cast and crew have thought and brought into existence a thoroughly entertaining, dazzling, and enchanting evening of theatre that will encourage the thinkers in all of us – and doing that will truly make anything possible!

Performs through November 7, 2004.

Rob Hopper
National Youth Theatre

~ Cast ~

Photo by Ken Jacques.

Cat in the Hat: Matthew Bohrer
Boy/JoJo: Jonathan Edzant
Horton the Elephant: Brian Polk
Gertrude McFuzz: Emily Shackelford
Mayzie La Bird: Sarah Petrella
Sour Kangaroo: Cailene Kilcoyne
Mr. Mayor: Alex Fleming
Mrs. Mayor: Carly Toyer
General Gengus Schmitz: Anthony Kaneaster
Bird Girls:
Jackee Bianchi
Leigh Schindler
Ashley Moore
Wickersham Brothers:
Brian Crum
Robert Dowling
Casey Gardner
The Grinch: Curtis Gordon
Yertle the Turtle: Hannah Sumner
Thing 1: Jacob Sampson
Thing 2: Amanda Kleske
Vlad Vladikoff: Kip Eischen
Max the Dog: Cameron Elmore

Citizens of the Jungle:
Daryl Daley
Ariana Dickey
Kip Eischen
Trevor Johnson
Catie Marron
Shannon Partrick
Olivia Puckett
Dominic Robinson
Alyssa Schechter

Whoville Residents:
Lara Ballon
Kevin Barber
Jackee Bianchi
Erin Burke
Jill Butterfield
Megan Cox
Kyle Crews
Brian Crum
Piper Davis
Robert Dowling
Maggie Foster
Casey Gardner
Rebecca Knell
Kimberly Marron
Evan McCree
Alexander Salomon
Alyssa Schechter
Hannah Sumner
Pia Tuchscher
Charlotte Wen

Cadets of the Military Academy:
Jill Butterfield
Megan Cox
Kyle Crews
Catie Marron
Shannon Partrick
Alyssa Schechter
Kiefer Shackelford

Director/Choreographer: Michael Anthony
Co-Choreographer: Brian Zimmer
Set Design: Tony Cucuzzella
Lighting Design: Ginger Harris
Costume Design: Clark Mires
Stage Manager: Katie Palmer


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