Oh, The Things That You Think!

This evening we did something a little unusual and saw a mid-week musical: “Seussical: The Musical” as done by the Teenage Drama Workshop at CSUN. It was a show we hadn’t seen, and we knew a number of kids in the cast from Erin’s days at Nobel.

As background, “Seussical” is a musical based on the Dr. Seuss books, with music by Lynn Ahrens, Book and Lyrics by Lynn Ahrens and Stephen Flaherty, and co-conceived by Lynn Ahrens, Stephen Flaherty, and Eric Idle. The story basically combines “Horton Hears a Who” with “Horton Hatches an Egg”, with a number of other Seuss stories and characters thrown in for good measure. If you are familiar with the two-act version of the cast album, this is a cut down, one act version that preserves the basic story, but cuts out some of the more extraneous stuff, such as the Butter Battle, and the environmental subplot (it appears to be the Jr. High/Middle School version). Most of the songs were preserved that related to the main plot, although I noticed some tweaks along the way.

The TADW kids did an excellent job with the show. I want to highlight some particular performances before I list everyone. Standouts in the cast were Sarah Martellaro as Gertrude McFuzz and Ian Fairlee as Horton. Sarah in particular was spectactular: she had great comic timing and expressions, and her vocal quality was excellent. She moved well and danced well and just drew your eye. As Horton, Ian had good vocal quality and expression; his role has much less dancing and movement. I was also impressed by Brittany E. Williams as the Sour Kangaroo: she had a very strong jazzy singing voice and good moves and expressions.

My second tier were some folks who had some problems, but were entertaining none-the-less. In this group were Colin Mika as Jojo: he had a few weak singing moments, but on the whole was fun to watch. I also enjoyed Lindsay Kazan as Mayzie LaBird: other than some points where her voice mysteriously disappeared, she had a strong singing voice and good dance moves. As The Cat, Daniel Stewart was very good on the acting and the movement, but his voice was a little bit nasally for my taste.

Completing the cast were: Aaron Jacob (Mr. Mayor), Milli Miereanu (Mrs. Mayor), Yael Karoly (Wickersham), Lily Lester (Wickersham), Devon Yaffe (Wickersham, Puppeteer), Tiffany Conway (Bird Girl), Lili Khalighi (Bird Girl), Lindsay Robb (Bird Girl), Josh Knoller (The Grinch), Evan Sanford (Thing #1, Cop Who), Camden Garcia (Thing #2, Kid Who), Kate Westrum (Miss P. Bush, The Guff, Puppeteer), Kaitlyn Rickaby (Vlad, Shopping Lady Who, Puppeteer), Zach Birch (Hunter, Marching Band Who, Puppeteer), Kathy Steele (Hunter, Tennis Who, Puppeteer), Camille Martellaro (Yertle the Turtle, Librarian Who, Puppeteer), Samantha Hartmann (It’s Possible Dancer, Yep on a Step), Raleigh Stamper (It’s Possible Dancer, Rainbow Bellied Flark), Nichole Church (The Purple Smerk, Puppeteer), Mara Eisner (Twin Gink, Puppeteer), Daniela Grinblatt (Twin Gink, Puppeteer), Olivia Hsia (Flying Feegle, Puppeteer), Sarah Lasky (The Parazeek, Puppeteer), Rocio Alvarenga (Baker Who), Kaitlyn Katalbas (Little Girl Who), Kyla Lockette (Rainy Day Who), Collette Navasartian (Boo Who), Haley Perkins (hard Hat Who), Annie Reznik (Cindy Lou Who, Puppeteer), Analisa Venolia (Teen Who), and Gracie Wall (Business Lady Who, Puppeteer).

The production was directed by Ronnie Sperling, who did a great job of bringing these kids together into an excellent cohesive whole. Choreography was by Candy Sherwin, with Kailey Short as Dance Captain. Music direction was by Ed Archer, assisted by David Lockwood. Owen Panno was Stage Manager.

Technically, the production was very very good. I was extremely impressed with the sets (designed by Cesar Holguin) and the lighting (designed by Rob Fritz). They created the mood well and integrated creatively into the production. It was particularly taken with the fish designed for the bath sequence; credit for the puppet design and construction goes to Renee Vlashi. The excellent costumes were designed by Maro Parian, assisted by Tamara Cooper and Becca Lasky. Props were by Matthew McKenna. Sound was by Caroline Law.

There are two more performances of “Seussical” on Thurs, 8/5, and Friday, 8/7, both at 11am.

Upcoming Theatre and Dance. Our busy theatre week continues on Friday, when we’re seeing [title of show] at the Celebration Theatre on Friday, August 6 and “Speech and Debate” at the Secret Rose Theatre on Saturday, August 7. August 15 brings the August “Meeting of Minds”, which will be the last production at the Steve Allen Theatre and features Adam Smith (Ian Buchanan), Chacko Vadaketh (Ghandi), T. B. Specified (Margaret Sanger), and Jack Maxwell (Steve Allen). August 21 brings the last 81 Series production: “Side Man” at REP East. Currently, the only show ticketed in September is “Free Man of Color” at the Colony on September 4. Pending ticketing is “Leap of Faith” at the Ahmanson Theatre (September 11-October 24, Hottix on sale August 17), The Glass Menagerie at the Mark Taper Forum (September 1-October 17, Hottix on sale August 11), and “Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde” at REP East (9/17-10/16). It is unknown if there will be a September “Meeting of Minds”, and if so, when and where. The only show currently ticketed in October is “Happy Days: The Musical” at Cabrillo Music Theatre on October 30, but I’m sure some interesting productions will pop up. They always do.

As always: live theatre is a gift and a unique experience, unlike a movie. It is vitally important in these times that you support your local arts institutions. If you can afford to go to the movies, you can afford to go to theatre. If you need help finding ways, just drop me a note and I’ll teach you some tricks. Lastly, I’ll note that nobody paid me anything to write this review. In fact, I receive no remuneration for any reviews I write.

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