With the theater near to capacity and the audience all abuzz, Corinna Sowers-Adler, director of the New Jersey School of Dramatic Arts production of “Seussical the Musical”, took the stage to remind everyone to “remember how to be a kid again.”
When the lights came up on the Westminster Arts Center stage (which looked like pages right out of “Green Eggs and Ham”) a child named Jojo (Henry Gardner) opened a box and out popped the Cat in the Hat (Tyler Lynch). From that point forward the show never stopped.
For anyone unfamiliar with the play, “Seussical the Musical” takes the children’s rhyming books of Dr. Seuss (nee Theodor Seuss Geisel) and combines them in a non-stop musical. The plot centers on young Jojo getting caught in the tiny world of the “Whos” as Horton the Elephant (Gerardo Mastrolia) attempts to protect them. The Cat in the Hat plays the antic trickster causing mischief all the way through.
And he does a great job at it. Lynch somehow manages to keep the momentum going for a two full hours which included an impromptu auction during the intermission (a poster and t-shirt signed by the cast were sold).
But the lively and witty Lynch wasn’t the only one putting in a notable performance. Mastrolia’s hangdog Horton made for a spot-on and a totally lovable pachyderm protagonist. And what a delight it was to hear him duet with Gardner (whose voice absolutely soared) on “Alone in the Universe”.
However, the breakout performance here would have to be Emma Wagner as Gertrude McFuzz, the lovelorn bird who befriends Horton. “Amazing Gertrude”, in particular, allowed her to really show off her natural knack for physical comedy while “All For You” put her singing on display, as well. Every awkward dance and squeal of surprise seemed to elicit another chuckle or chortle from the crowd.
The director couldn’t help but fawn over her talented students.
“I think they did a great job,” said Sowers-Adler. She continued, “They’re a very talented group, very friendly, nice group of kids so it was really a joy to spend every day for 5 weeks with them…It never felt like working at all. It’s like you’re just at recess all the time.”
But the details of the show can’t be forgotten either. With a clock painted on the set displaying misplaced numbers, bird costumes created with hot pink stockings and feather boas for tails and one “Who’s” gravity-defying hair-do the atmosphere of the theater impressively evoked the whimsy and spirit of Dr. Seuss.
Speaking about the play’s message of inclusion, Dr. Paula Zaccone said, “It’s something you can take with you after the show. It’s really confidence building.”
“It was a good show. A lot of energy. We enjoyed it,” said Brian Crawley, there with his two sons. Grandmother, Lois Crawley called the show very good. “I thought the lead person was very good. All of them were good.”
“Seussical the Musical” will perform once again tonight at 8pm at the Westminster Arts Center. After that theater-goers will have to wait several months for “Children of Eden”, the New Jersey School of Dramatic Arts next production in January 2012.