June 03, 2011
Pioneer Theatre Guild: Seussical
“Oh, The Thinks You Can Think!” Seussical is a stage adaptation/amalgamation of several Dr. Seuss books — primarily Horton Hears a Who! Horton (Hank Miller) is an elephant who tries to protect the Whos of Whoville. The Whos are so tiny that they live on a speck of dust, and only Horton is able to hear their cries for help.
Forgive the non-timeliness of this blog entry. Hopefully, if you were chomping at the bit to see my Seussical photos, you found them on my facebook page (tip: I post more frequent updates there — please consider adding your “like”). Let's just say that this post isn't meant for reporting so much as for reminiscing — now and later.
I don’t have the words to describe how absolutely fantastic the Pioneer Theatre Guild’s Seussical was. Production photos can only convey so much, and even video falls woefully short of experiencing the show personally. I hope you were fortunate enough to attend at least one performance (lucky me, I saw it three times!).
Seussical is an extremely ambitious show to pull off — it's almost completely sung-through. I want to express my whole-hearted gratitude to the entire production staff, cast, crews, orchestra and everyone else involved for contributing their talent, ingenuity, and sheer stamina to this production. And they managed to make it look completely effortless — even during a potentially grueling weekend of four performances.
Thank you for your vision and leadership: Susan Hurwitz (producer), Joel Sparks (director and musical director), Will Burton (choreographer), Alexandra Finke (assistant director), Mysti Plummer (technical director), Kasia Mrozewska (production designer), Ciara Stella (scene shop supervisor), Laura Munson (lighting designer), Patrick Shrock (sound designer), Kate VanHorn (props and paint), Nora Curtis (paint), Kathy Lloyd (costumes), Tyler Driskill (orchestra director), and Kate Summers (stage manager).
And I wonder, what could possibly top Seussical? The Pioneer Theatre Guild isn’t an organization that rests on its laurels. They are always looking for challenges. But what could be more stunning and ambitious? Well, according to its website, the Theatre Guild is planning to produce Phantom of the Opera and Westside Story next year! Incredible. (Stay cool, Jets!)
The elegant Bird Girls, of the Jungle of Nool, help tell the story in beautiful harmony.
Sour Kangaroo (Lauren Victor) belts out “R-e-s-p-e-c-k!
Oh, please! Take that speck away!” in “Biggest Blame Fool.”
The menacing Wickersham Brothers harass Horton the Elephant (Hank Miller).
In “Here on Who,” the Mayor of Whoville and Mrs. Mayor (Ari Axelrod and Grace Gilmore) introduce the Whos, including the marching band — led by the gung-ho General Genghis Khan Schmitz (Robby Eisentrout).
The Who’s Who of Whos. (Who could resist? Not me.)
The thinkful Jojo (Hannah Hesseltine) and the mischievous Cat in the Hat (Russell Norris) imagine that Jojo’s bathtub is McElligot’s pool in “It’s Possible.”
Ostracized by all the other animals for his devotion to a speck, Horton (Hank Miller) feels “Alone in the Universe.” The lighting effectively isolates Horton within a vast darkness.
The poised and proud Mayzie La Bird (Victoria Reackhof) revels in her wondrous colors in “Amazing Mayzie.”
In “Amazing Gertrude,” Gertrude McFuzz (Mara Abramson), who felt completely inadequate with her small, one-feather tail, now hopes to impress Horton with her new, super-sized tail.
The Wickersham Brothers “Monkey Around.”
The staging of “How Lucky You Are” somehow convinced me that those tiny Whos are on the clover!
Let’s get a closer look at the terrified Whos on the brink of peril.
In “Notice Me, Horton,” Gertrude (Mara Abramson) is hopelessly in love with Horton (Hank Miller), who hopelessly searches the clover field for the Whos’ clover.
Horton, who at this point in the show has not only lost the Whos but is also stuck sitting atop Mayzie’s egg, meets more bad news: hunters!
In the overture before Act 2, the Cat in the Hat (Russell Norris) mocks the orchestra director (Tyler Driskill).
A closer look at the lovely Bird Girls.
Props to the props and costumes (“The Circus McGurkus”).
It amazes me how much the color of the light, costumes, and hanging lanterns can convincingly distinguish this scene from the others.
Horton (Hank Miller) and Jojo (Hannah Hesseltine), in their darkest hour, find solace wishing for “Solla Sollew,” a trouble-free paradise.
“Green Eggs and Ham II”: As Christmas and the threat of war near, Jojo gathers his nerve to go AWOL. (Some of the littlest cadets, no doubt, found it hard not to giggle. I would have, too.)
The general and his officer (Robby Eisentrout and Jacob Jedele). | The Grinch and his dog Max (Ray Hong and Eric Dutton).
“The Whos’ Christmas Pageant.”
Mayor of Whoville and Mrs. Mayor (Ari Axelrod and Grace Gilmore) represent the Whos with colorful aplomb. | The Cat in the Hat (Russell Norris). Kudos to Russell for nailing dozens of impersonations in this role.
“Jojo Alone in the Universe.” The disembodied hands were both haunting and dazzling.
Gertrude (Mara Abramson) is delighted to have her old tail back and enumerates everything she’s done for Horton, “All For You.”
Mayhem ensues as Horton pleads with the Whos to make themselves heard before the Jungle Animals boil Whoville in a hot steaming kettle of beezlenut oil.
Oh no! Could this be the end of the smallest planet?
I’m not going to give away how it happens, but, suffice it to say, everyone rejoices as the Whos are saved!