Review By Lia Cocks
It’s no secret I’m a big fan of Adelaide Youth Theatre. In it’s tenth year, founders and producers Emma Riggs and Kerreane Sarti have created an incredible platform and learning ground for Adelaide’s young musical theatre talent; fostering the craft and building the foundations for a potential professional career.
This summer school holiday show, Seussical, was put together in 2 ½ weeks with a cast from the ages of 12 to 21. Just read that again. Two and a half weeks.
The incredible music of Stephen Flaherty and lyrics of Lynn Ahrens, based on the works of the formidable Dr. Seuss, was brought to life by the AMAZING production team of dual Director and Musical Directors Serena Martino-Williams and Jesse Budel and fabulous choreographer Nina Richi.
Seussical takes us into the world of Dr Seuss, where we visit his beloved characters including The Cat in the Hat, Horton the Elephant, Gertrude McFuzz, Lazy Mayzie and JoJo.
The Cat in the Hat guides us into the Jungle of Nool where we meet Horton, the kind hearted elephant who discovers a speck of dust containing the people of Whoville. He meets JoJo, a Who child sent to Military school for thinking too many ‘thinks’. Horton decides he must protect the speck of dust on a nearby clover, while at the same time protecting the abandoned egg left to his care by the lazy and irresponsible Mayzie la Bird.
Horton tries to convince the other animals in the Jungle of the existence of the Whos, but he is ridiculed and put on trial for insanity. Only his loyal neighbour, Gertrude McFuzz, never loses faith in him.
Seussical weaves a story of friendship, loyalty and love. Despite all odds, Horton and Gertrude band together to save the Whos, free Horton and restore peace and unity to the Jungle of Nool.
For those that aren’t familiar with Seussical, it is a musical underscored almost entirely by song. This is no mean feat for a young cast, but they navigate the story and rhythmical lyrics well.
The songs are lively, frivolous and full of energy - a combination of your favourite Dr. Seuss stories all wrapped into one production!
The opening number of ‘All the Thinks you can Think’ was dressed with simple rostra and iridescent lighting, which allowed the cast and choreography to shine.
Special mention to the extraordinary orchestra and sound technician Jamie Mensforth as the music was truly a triumph. Exceptional lighting design by Jamie Lee Raynor; highlighting the importance of complementary lighting in a show.
Huge kudos to wardrobe coordinator, May Tran, who dressed over 100 children in the most clever and colourful costumes.
While some cast members were making their AYT debut, others are seasoned veterans [at the ripe of old age of 13!]
Ryan Vandermyle, is one said 13 year old, who performed the tricky role of The Cat in the Hat with maturity, incredible comical timing and vocal prowess. As host and emcee of the evening, playing many comic minor parts throughout the story, he has a presence in almost every scene. His hilarious lifeguard moment in Palm Beach left the audience in stitches!
Young Jack Keukenmeester, played JoJo, the boys who thinks too much, with a great blend of naivety and rambunctiousness.
The self-centred and vain Mayzie, was portrayed with showgirl style by Lily Horton-Stewart, and her posse of sassy back up bird girls [Chloe Seabrook, Claudia Heys and Kiara Linke] acted as storytellers, picking up where the cat left off, where a big presence throughout the show.
Ella Waters’ bluesy, brassy tone was the perfect fit for the Sour Kangaroo, and the young Zoey Velianofski was her protege offspring.
Also deserving of a mention are Nick Mitchell and Holly Fennell, Mr and Mrs Mayor respectively, and the cheeky, naughty Wickersham Brother hip hop monkeys.
However, the standouts for me were Kristian Latella as Horton and Montana Vincent as Gertrude.
Latella had a beautiful, lyrical voice, matched by an enchanting tone to deliver his ode ‘Alone in the Universe’ While Vincent was all bright, birdlike and extremely likable, a highlight being her ‘All for You’ number. Their harmonies in ‘Notice Me Horton’ were magical, as was their believable chemistry.
Seussical is a perfect musical for all the family, teaching us the power of being unique and the importance of fighting for your beliefs. Well done AYT!
All opinions and thoughts expressed within reviews on Theatre Travels are those of the writer and not of the company at large.