'SEUSSICAL THE MUSICAL' IS A BRIGHT CELEBRATION WITH HEART HOPE AND LOVE
A fantastical feast for the senses, Seussical transports you from the Jungle of Nool, to the tiny planet of Who on a journey of make believe and pop musical numbers with a fun talented cast.
Review by Vince Mediaa
"Oh, the thinks you can think" Dr. Seuss' best-loved characters meet in an unforgettable musical caper at Woodside Community Theatre this fall season. The tiny town of WhoVille is awesome “WE'RE TINY LITTLE PEOPLE BLOWING BY IN THE AIR, WONDERING HOW AND WHY WE'RE ON WHO, THE TI-INIEST PLANET IN THE SKY! Seussical is now on stage at WCT through October 22nd. Written by the Tony Award-winning writer Lynn Ahrens lyricist and playwright Stephen Flaherty.
Directed by Jeffrey Ramos he says Seussical taps into that beautiful place in the adult dream where it’s still fun to be a kid; “The key to our production is the collaboration of artists working together to bring the themes of family, friendships, and creativity of this story alive. From our enticing choreography, and a strong 29-person cast accompanied by a 15-piece orchestra - we aim to share the magic of Dr Seuss' characters with our audiences and hope to inspire everyone that if we all work together for a common goal, anything is possible!”. Ramos supports his vision with Vocal and Musical Direction by Justin Pyne, Choreography by Richard Nguyen, Assistant Choreography by Sam Ayoob, Scenic and Lighting Design by Don Coluzzi, and Costume Design by Greet Jaespert.
A fantastical feast for the senses, Seussical transported us from the Jungle of Nool, to the tiny planet of Who on a journey of laughter and enchanting musical numbers. It is no small feat to undertake the creativity of capturing the colorful world of Dr Seuss and his stories and Director Ramos and his craft team succeed. This is a talented ensemble with strong vocal and dance skills. The charming Olivia Swanson Haas as The Cat in the Hat is a grand emcee, hosting the audience and young Who, JoJo, sweetly played by both Tylar Kawata and Nadia Moehler who alternate in the roles as the young Who. They both sing “It's Possible” with The Cat and open the theme of the story. Haas cat movement and dance is precise, showing off her long limbs and sharp execution. The Cat in the Hat serves as a guide to young Jojo and shows the youngster wonderful ”thinks” can set its mind to “it is possible”.
Jojo befriends Horton the Elephant played by the vulnerable Jay Steele, they both bond and help put life into perspective. Jojo and Horton sing the sensitive “Alone In The Universe” and show off their keen voices with this sentimental duet. Horton hears the Who people calling for help on a small speck of dust and embarks on a mission to rescue them, despite being endlessly mocked by the rest of the animals in the Jungle of Nool. The only people who believe in him are Gertrude McFuzz played by the delightful Leslie Chocano, his admiring neighbor and the self-interested Mayzie LaBird played by the superb Sarah Szeibel. Choano sings “The One Feathered Tail” and delivers an excellent performance. Szeible who plays the selfish bird sings “Amayzing Mayzie '' as she shows off her blinding red feathers designed by Greet Jaespert.
Meanwhile, the son of the mayor of Whoville, is in trouble at school for his “Thinks” and is disciplined by his parents and sent to bed, which does not stop his imagination running wild. The Mayor played by the daper Robert Fraser and Mrs Mayor played by the quirky Joan Pugh Newman both sing “How To Raise A Child” and delight the town of WhoVille. The ensemble is splendid under the direction of Justin Pyne. Every number is polished to perfection and I enjoyed the lively choreography of Nguyen and his assistant Samantha Ayoob. One of the production highlights is “The Circus McGurkus” featuring the Cat, Horton and the company. Balancing so many whimsical characters and stories with some emotional moments and moral lessons is at the heart of this production.
The impressive Angela Harrington as the villain Sour Kangaroo had the audience sneer at her in awe of her powerful vocals in the song “Egg Nest and Tree” alongside the gifted Bird Girls; Samantha Ayoob, Ayanna Brewer, Erica Waxer, and Jennifer Yuen. Other stand out performances include Mark Bowles as the General, John Tondino as Vladikoff, Lauren Biglow as the Turtle.
The 29 member company also fills out the many roles of the Whos, Wickershams, Hunters, the Hunches and the Cadets. Steele gave an exceptional performance as the endearing, kind and naive Horton. It is impossible not to root for the elephant on his quest to save the Whos, as Haas’ Cat in the Hat sneaked in and out of the action to excellent comic timing. She also opens the second act with a clever gig conducting the 15 member on stage orchestra. Set and lighting designer Don Coluzzi opens the large Woodside stage to fill every entrance including the orchestra on stage. His colorful set compliments Jaespert's clever bright costumes and all the yards of feathers.
Seussical is quite the candy lane sight. The creative team also includes prop masters Donna Losey and Nancy Fitzgerald who created Horton's tree bird nest, and JoJo’s many floating props including his bathtub and boat. The props were incorporated smoothly and effectively with the choreography; it gave the impression of the colorful tales in this musical. Don Coluzzi wore many hats for the team; he is also the stage manager and tech director. All of the cast had flawless energy and humor without losing the sentimental value of these lovely musical songs including my favorite “How Lucky You Are”.
As the story ends Horton bonds with his egg, pulling out a baby elephant with bird wings from Mayzie’s egg played by the adorable Saher Chawla. “Green Eggs And Ham” closes the two act two hour musical. You will want to stand and dance and celebrate with the cast. The impossible does happen and with warmth and emotion thanks to the commitment of the entire cast and production team; you will find it difficult to hold back your tears. Seussical is a light-hearted yet meaningful tale illustrating the power of imagination and the importance of friendship and kindness. “A person is a person, no matter how small.” Make sure to add this performance to your fall schedule and bring your “make believe” with you so we won’t be alone in the Universe.
Woodside Musical Theatre Presents
SEUSSICAL THE MUSICAL
Music, Book & Story by Lynn Ahrens & Stephen Flaherty
Directed by Jeffrey Ramos
Music Director Justin Pyne
Choreographer Richard Nguyen
Producers Nancy Fitzgerald and Brenda Jackson
Two Hours with a 15 min intermission
Must Close October 22, 2023
Woodside Performing Arts Center
199 Churchill Ave. Woodside, CA 94062
Photos by Jeffrey Ramos