Seussical The Musical

Seussical The Musical
By Stephen Flaherty and Lyn Ahrens. Stage Artz. Glen Street Theatre (NSW). Until October 2.

This production of Seussical, and producer, Stage Artz, are both performing arts hybrids. Established as a performing arts school in 2001, with a separate theatre company emerging in 2006, in response to the needs of older students, the school and theatre company join forces each year for a charity musical. The venture has, thus far, raised $50,000 for the Children’s Hospital, in memory of a young Stage Artz student who died from cancer.

For the uninitiated, Seussical is a charming family musical based on the stories of Dr. Seuss.

Seussical is an ideal choice for Stage Artz’s blend of performers, from young adults to tiny tots (as Stage Artz clearly recognizes, this being their second production of the musical in five years). It is particularly pleasing, however, that rather than constantly crowding the stage with kids like a dance school concert, the ballet is generally well integrated into the whole, with the littlies especially delightful among the fish and bubbles in It’s Possible.

Stage Artz founder Samantha Neaves has directed a bright, high energy production, which moves at a lively pace, also punched along effectively from the stage by Chris Jackson’s energetic, outgoing Cat in the Hat.

I wasn’t sure, though why certain songs and scenes gravitated toward the back of the stage.

Amongst the generally engaging, enthusiastic ‘older’ cast members, other standouts for me include Max Newstead’s warm and loveable Horton the Elephant, Jessica Burns’s perky, cheerily determined, and confidently delivered Gertrude McFuzz, and Amy Gough’s delightfully vain, selfish airhead portrayal of Mayzie La Bird.

The supporting ‘Bird Girls’ are slinky, cheeky and knowing, while the routines of the two ‘Things,’ who control much of the prop movement, add a mischievous edge.

Harmony Lovegrove, who played the pivotal child role of JoJo on the night I attended, is a born performer who confidently effervesces her way through a demanding performance.

Two dimensional cartoon props and scenic pieces, impressively executed, create simple effective storybook settings.

Natalie Neary’s choreography for the ensemble is lively, effective and confidently performed, while entries for the Stage Artz students fitted nicely into the storytelling. Occasional nervous moments for a couple of the tiny tots, and their anxious shared glances, tended to charm rather than alarm.

The sound mix was pleasing, with Alex Ash’s impressive orchestra in the theatre’s covered pit, though a couple of performers need to learn that amplification is no substitute for diction.

Hopefully teething problems with follow spot cues will be sorted out early in the season.

Seussical is bright entertainment, with the added bonus that you’re supporting a good cause.

Neil Litchfield

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