‘Seussical – the musical’ by the Tony Award winners, lyricist Lynn Ahrens and composer Stephen Flaherty, is still one of the most performed shows in America. The musical’s name is a hybrid of ‘Seuss’ and ‘musical’. The storyline is based on the Dr. Seuss collection of children’s stories. On its 2000 Broadway debut, the show was slated by the critics and closed in 2001 with a heavy financial loss. However, this revival which has the added humour of Eric Idle, has been warmly accepted by the young audiences the World over; it is now described as ‘a fantastical, magical, musical comedy extravaganza!’
This presentation is by one of the most respected musical production groups in the Perth area – Laughing Horse Productions Inc., who in association with Don Russell Performing Arts Centre Organisers are presenting this treasure.
The show can be seen at the Don Russell Performing Art Centre on Murdoch Drive in Thornlie from Friday the 2nd of October until Saturday 10th October. The curtains rise on this bright sparkling 2-hour show for the whole family at 7.00 pm.
The tickets are vanishing quickly, so please ‘phone the booking office.
For those parents who wish to teach their children the story in advance, most of its plot has been based on ‘Horton Hears a Who!’, while incorporating many other stories.
The Scene: The City of Whoville. Present day
The Set: A white cyc covers the rear wall and various colourful patterns are projected onto it.
At audience level on the right of the stage is the colourful entrance to the strange world of Whos-ville. To the left of the stage is LaBird’s back garden with lounger.
Towards the end of the spectacular is a large pink tree with a nest capable of holding an adult appears.
The set construction was by Adam Salathiel, Peter ‘Pear’ Carr, Terry Down and the cast.
Lighting: Lots of vibrant colour. There was a serene candlelit scene with two dozen actors carrying candles; then, from this calm scene we went to a blackout, when actors dressed in black capes and hoods tried to frighten Jojo, with what appeared to be floating white lights that looked like eyes following him. Very impressive scene.
Sound: Each actor had a ‘dreaded’ microphone headset, but they all worked. Wow. They were correctly positioned on the actors’ faces and stayed there! A miracle.
The pre-recorded CD of backing music was supplied by the copyright company and was a full orchestral sound, very well presented.
Stage-management: With a cast of about 50 people, handling entrances and exits could have been terrible; then a Covid restriction was imposed that limited the number of actors on stage at any time to 20; this meant that in a song for 40 performers 20 would be on stage with the remaining singers walk onto the stage from the auditorium or the wings as the equal number exited the stage at the other side. Complex to read, a nightmare for the director. Strangely this added extra movement and excitement to the scenes. Great handling by Rach Gilmour and Adam Salathiel.
Photography and design by Zoe Jay and Krispin Maesalu.
Production manager Kelly Salathiel has done an amazing job pulling all the talented elements together.
A strange red-and-white-striped hat sat in the centre of the stage in front of the curtains. The son of the Mayor (Neil Young) and Mrs Mayor (Tara Talbot) is a small lad, Jojo (Hunter Young) wanders along reading a book. Jojo is in trouble at school because he ‘thinks’ too much. The Cat in the Hat (Rai Costin), puts on the magic hat, grabs Jojo’s book and creates the ‘Seussian’ world of the Jungle of Nool. A land where the caring and determined Horton the Elephant (Krispin Maesalu) is swimming in McElligot’s Pool. Horton’s big ears hear a strange noise coming from a nearby speck of dust. He carefully stores the speck on a fluffy pink clover, just as the colourful but miserable the ill-mannered governor of the Jungle, Sour Kangaroo (Nicole George) and his companion Young Kangaroo (Skye Colcott) start to mock poor Horton.
Horton’s bird neighbour is Gertrude McFuzz (Imogen Rabbitte) who has a secret love for Horton, but she does not have much attractive plumage – unlike Horton’s other neighbour – Mayzie LaBird (Shannon Rogers), a vivacious, yet lazy and self-centred girl who has an abundance of fine feathers, whom he admires. Perhaps Thing 1 and 2 (Evan Bialas and Mishka Miller) can help Gertrude with their magic bush.
The microscopic children from Whoville have been sent for training to the belligerent Scotsman, General Genghis Khan Schmitz (Mark Thompson – hilarious) and his sword’s man (Beau van der Beeke).
When a barrel of monkeys arrives, their aim is to steel Horton’s special inhabited clover, these Wickersham monkey Brothers (Aaron O’Neil, Keaton Humphreys, Duncan Ferguson) start causing chaos in the area. Yertle the Turtle (Peter ‘Pear’ Carr), who is normally happy just swimming around becomes the local Judge and decides who is guilty of causing the fracas.
With the help of the Bird Girls, 1 is purple (Ellen Brookes), 2 pink (Ebony Uetake) and 3 scarlet (Kelsey Morandin), Horton guards the last remaining Truffula Tree against the powerful eagle, Vlad Vladikoff (Max Leunig) who is destroying the planet.
At Christmas there was their annual pageant directed by their sad friend, the Grinch (Sam Barnett). The Cat in the Hat cheers people up by becoming Louie Armstrong and playing his keyboard. He is joined by the Circus McGurkus ballet dancer, who is a fish (Nora Lane), an eyewatering contortionist (Michaela Logan) and a beauty queen (Brianna Thompson).
The powers of friendship, loyalty, family and community are challenged and emerge triumphant.
The Ensemble: Aydee Bull, Michael Carroll, Sophie David, Sasha Du Plessis, Peter Jacobs, Natalya Jovanovski, Makaya Kemp, Klara Kuhn, Sage Lockyer, Bianca Morandin, Chloe Nally-Olsen, Charlotte Sampson, Gabrielle Sampson, Megan West.
EVERY single member was impressive. There were no daydreamers or dead wood. They danced and sang their hearts out. With the performers being between 9 and ?? (after Peter’s strong man act, I dare not mention a figure), even the youngest was most impressive.
Choreographer, Tess Howieson has on her world travels as a dancer, obviously learnt the lesson of not talking down to children or pampering them by avoiding tricky dance steps. She trusted this group, given them complex adult routines ranging from a 1930s Busby Berkeley clock, complex marching, acrobatics, ballet and even on to semi-burlesque. Not a single misstep. A smile on every performer’s face irrespective of the speed of the footwork. Be very proud.
Vocal director, Ben Albert is top of his field, but when faced with such a huge age range the challenge was on. He had to select his cast of singers and then train them to work as soloists or as a chorus. With so many youngsters most musical directors would have given up, but Ben’s results were magnificent. Some exquisite voices with power, clarity and perfect pitch.
The costumes were true to the books and looked luscious. Most graceful and quirky. Great work by Alysha Hasch, Kelly Salathiel, Pam Brookes and Nikki Wilson.
Director Adam Salathiel has directed some prime shows over the past decade and his assistant director, Rach Gilmour has learned many of his skills and will be directing their next show. Laughing Horse is a theatre company that never lets the audience down. They get enthusiastic youngsters and show them what is expected and train them beyond their expectations.
Highly recommended spectacular.