Review By Lia Cocks
You’d think after seeing the older cast members perform Seussical, I’d be all ‘seussed’ out, but no, I’m back for more fun and frivolity with the younger performers in Seussical JR!
Again, by rehearsing both shows at the same time, in the same time frame and performing in the same theatre, I’m surprised founders and producers Emma Riggs and Kerreane Sarti are still standing!
Horton the Elephant, the Cat in the Hat and all your favourite Dr. Seuss characters spring to life onstage in Seussical JR., a fantastical musical extravaganza from Tony-winners Stephen Flaherty and Lynn Ahrens.
Well done to the talented production team of Director Ned Baulderstone, Musical Director Kate Neville and choreographer Teagan Fisher for navigating such elocutionary and rhetorical lyrics with such a young cast!
Seussical Junior is a sung through musical based on the many children’s stories of Dr. Seuss, with most of its plot being based on ‘Horton Hears a Who!’ while incorporating many others such as Oh, the Thinks You Can Think!, McElligot’s Pool, The Butter Battle Book, If I ran the Circus and Green Eggs and Ham.
Transporting audiences from the Jungle of Nool to the Circus McGurkus, the Cat in the Hat narrates the story of Horton the Elephant, who discovers a speck of dust containing tiny people called the Whos. Horton must protect the Whos from a world of naysayers and dangers, and he must also guard an abandoned egg that’s been left in his care by the irresponsible Mayzie la Bird. Although Horton faces ridicule, danger and a trial, the intrepid Gertrude McFuzz never loses faith in him. Ultimately, the powers of friendship, loyalty, family and community are challenged and emerge triumphant!
Seussical JR provides wonderful creative opportunities in terms of set design, lighting [well done to Jamie Lee Rayner], sound and costuming.
Huge kudos to wardrobe coordinator, May Tran, who provided a slight variation on the full show costumes, appropriate to the younger cast, but still as bright and colourful.
In today’s performance I was lucky enough to see Bridget Tran play The Cat in the Hat. Her essence of mischief, fun and trouble making really brought her interpretation to life. A strong singer with a fab comic ability, she was great to watch.
Young Noah Magourilos, played JoJo, the ‘thinker’, a smart child with a wild imagination, only egged on by The Cat.
I was enthralled by Henry Trans emotional and gentle portrayal of Horton. His rendition of Solla Sollew was mesmerising.
Another standout for me was Claudia Heys as Gertrude McFuzz. She gave the perfect amount of nervous and naive, and grew into her character just as Gertrude grows throughout the show. Her delivery of One Feathered Tail and Amayzing Gertrude showed a maturity of performance beyond her years.
Mayzie, portrayed with style and finesse by Paige Tran, and her posse of sassy, Destiny’s Child-esque bird girls [Amelia Scodella, Sophia Scodell, Madeline Birch and Mabel Combe] acted as storytellers, picking up where the cat left off, were a big presence throughout the show.
Lily Salter and her sidekick Gracie Cheung played Sour Kangaroo and Baby Kangaroo respectively well with their attitude and bluesy rhythm and tone.
Other cast worth noting; Sam Stringer as Mr Mayor, Summa Arrizza and Mrs Mayor and Zachary Occhiuto, Thomas Iannone and Nicholas Latella as the cheeky, naughty Wickersham Brothers.
Seussical JR is a delightful Seussian gumbo of musical styles from Latin to pop, swing and gospel with some R&B thrown in between! As the Cat says ‘After all those years being stuck on a page, did you ever imagine you’d see me onstage?’ Another triumph AYT!
All opinions and thoughts expressed within reviews on Theatre Travels are those of the writer and not of the company at large.