Left – Sam Moran and Bella Thomas
Seussical is a highly ambitious attempt at bringing a musical, based on the books of Dr. Seuss, to the stage. The story itself is very well put together. With music by Stephen Flaherty and lyrics by Lynn Ahrens, you follow Horton the Elephant as he carves a new story that incorporates many of Dr. Seuss's most loved tales.
The cast was enormous and the stage was overcrowded at times. You are never sure where to look and then you glimpse a young man doing amazing ballet moves and splits sandwiched in between other performers.
This production of Seussical has moments of high production quality. The costumes by Damien Ross are fabulous. Especially those of the people of Whoville. The colour and design strengthened the connection to the Dr. Seuss we all know and love. The fish in McElligot's Pool were also stand out costumes. When Ross stuck to the heart of Dr. Seuss, the costumes worked really well but the 'provocative' bird girls with cleavage, and see-through wraps seemed gratuitous.
Mrs Mayor was portrayed as a bit of a boozer and this too seemed out-of-place. Dr. Seuss is master of words that rhyme in wonderful ways, and spur the imagination to envisage places that are so fantastical you remember them for the rest of your life. These are classic stories that are not enriched by the addition of gender objectification and moonshine.
At times you thought it was grand but with American accents, singing out of tune, missed spotlight cues, microphones that did not work and stage curtain malfunctions, it meant the taste of school musicals was never far away.
But despite all the technical difficulties the cast were professional and dedicated to their roles. Bella Thomas plays Jojo and although the youngest she is the strongest performer on the stage. She didn't bat an eyelid when the curtain wouldn't rise and her portrayal of a thinker who thinks wonderful thinks was marvellous.
Teale Howie plays General Schmitz and his subtle and hilarious entry set the tone for the rest of his performance. The way he moved around the stage with long legs swinging in a comically regimental manner made him immediately enjoyable.
The show is fun despite the hitches. It is full of colour and it is delightful seeing so many of Dr. Seuss's characters brought to life. With a bit of polishing it could be marvellous.
Birdie Productions and VMS Live present
by Stephen Flaherty and Lyn Ahrens
Director Meg Day
Venue: Bryan Brown Theatre | 80 Rickard Rd (Cnr Rickard and Chapel Rd) Bankstown NSW
Dates: 18 – 28 Aug 2016
Tickets: $40 – $20
Bookings: www.blakc.com.au | (02) 8764 8137