Western Bradford Notebook: Troy hatches a winner with 'Seussical'
TROY - If the ratings scale were a Dr. Seuss hat, then the recent production of "Seussical" in Troy would deserve five stripes.
The Troy Area High School Drama Club presented "Seussical" as its spring musical at Memorial Auditorium.
Following the weekend matinee performance, the audience gave a standing ovation - and it was easy to see why.
The production, with lots of the fun rhyming for which Dr. Seuss is famous, succeeded on every level: acting, singing and dancing, costumes, set design, direction - even lighting.
Katie Shay as "The Cat in the Hat" character - the most iconic of the Dr. Seuss characters - did the role justice, and then some.
Continually in motion, she was the thread that weaved the show together. She displayed fancy footwork, cracked jokes that had the audience laughing along, and exhibited an enthusiasm that was infectious. She didn't just play the role; she became the character.
Also, Zachary Culkin as Horton the Elephant was convincing as the famous character that sits on the egg for Mayzie, the lazy bird who lets him do all the work. Especially impressive was how he reacted to all the silliness going on around him. And his costume -- consisting of a tie, some padding under his shirt, and a pair of elephant ears - was minimal, but effective.
In the storyline, Horton discovers the Whos living in a tiny world on a dust speck and places it on a clover, which he then protects with the same loyalty that he displays in hatching Mayzie's egg because, as Horton says, "a person's a person, no matter how small."
This miniscule world inhabited by the Whos was brought to life on the stage in a clever way: Horton would stand off looking at his clover, and then the Whos played out their scenes all around him. While the Horton character was oblivious to the Whos on stage, the audience wasn't, and thus it got a glimpse of their world.
In the microscopic Who world, Trevor Ward, with an excellent singing voice, played Jojo, who was disciplined by his parents, Mr. and Mrs. Mayor (Tyler Hoffman and Samantha Morse). Ward, too, was a major reason why the musical worked so well. As an integral character in the story, he pulled off the role well, with a solid acting and vocal performance that was impressive.
According to the story, that mischievous Cat in the Hat has been putting thoughts into Jojo's head, and getting him into all sorts of trouble, such as daydreaming in school and also in the bathtub, letting the tub overflow. This was illustrated by the song, "Oh, the Thinks You Can Think."
Eventually, Jojo's parents send him off to the army and this provided the entrance for another character, General Schmitz, played by Robert Lenahan. As with Mr. and Mrs. Mayor, this was another case of a young actor portraying someone much older, and in all three cases, this was done with aplomb and believability. His character boasts of getting his soldiers in shape. He asks if you can believe that they once had â¦ opinions?
The musical ends happily on several levels. Jojo eventually leaves the army, and is reunited with his parents. After losing his clover with the small world of the Whos on it, Horton eventually gets its back, and, of course, Mayzie's egg is hatched, which provided a surprise at the end of the musical as the audience could hear the egg crack, and then a child actor walked onto the stage as the young hatchling. This was played by three different kids, for each of the shows: Izzy Culkin, Simon Wile, and Zadie Culkin.
Other performances that were noteworthy included Olivia Morse, who played Gertrude McFuzz, the bird with a one-feather tail who wants to be noticed by Horton.
She brought an endearing quality of nerdiness to the role, and was one of the true comedic highlights of the production. Olivia Hansell as Mayzie LaBird was a real gem as well, and did a good job in portraying the character's irresponsible behavior, lounging on a chair for one scene.
There were also some nice lighting effects, especially the use of silhouettes and black lighting, which made the white gloves of the actors stand out during the "Having a Hunch" scene. And the bright set, which looked for all the world like a Dr. Seuss book brought to life, helped draw you into this magical place of imagination, where lots of background action on stage added to the excitement. Art teacher Wayne Beeman seemed to have done a great job "Seussing" it up. First-rate music, provided by Cherilyn Ayres and company, added to the appeal.
One of the songs from the musical was "It's Possible," and first-time director Sydney Blade had you believing just that with this delightful and whimsical musical treat.
Eric Hrin can be reached at (570) 297-5251; email: firstname.lastname@example.org