I’m not a particularly sentimental person when it comes to plays. I can watch Éponine die and Julie Jordan sing If I Loved You without tearing up at all. However, watching this young cast from the American High School Theatre Festival choked me to the point where I could only smile inanely at the front of house team as I left. Why? The performers are just so bloody talented! For an hour and a half, students from the School of the Arts, New York treated us to an enthusiastic performance of Stephen Flaherty and Lynn Ahrens’ Seussical the Musical, based on the works of Dr Seuss. For those unaware of the narrative, it follows a variety of Dr Seuss stories but focuses on The Cat in the Hat and Horton Hears a Who. The music and libretto are charming and can make any child or child-at-heart smile.
The principal cast in particular are all fantastic and sing beautifully, rendering it impossible to choose just a couple of performers to name individually
This production uses a simple but effective set based around levelled platforms and I like that the team have made use of available resources, for example by using a step ladder to act as Horton’s tree. Fluffy pom-poms brighten up the stage, though they are knocked over several times during large ensemble numbers and I can’t help but feel that they are more of a burden than they are an attractive stage feature. What fills the stage with colour, texture and Dr Seuss magic though are the costumes. Children in the audience excitedly point out The Cat in the Hat (Tyler Stofer), Gertrude McFuzz (Samantha Symes) and Horton the Elephant (Demetrio Alomar) amongst others, each character with a recognisable and well-designed outfit.
What seals the deal are the stellar performances from each cast member. Every song is performed with fabulous facial expressions, although a few performers seem to think that the floor is more interesting to gaze at than the audience. The principal cast in particular are all fantastic and sing beautifully, rendering it impossible to choose just a couple of performers to name individually. Chorus numbers are especially impressive, with crisp harmonies and effective choreography. The opening number Oh, the Things you can Think! bursts onto the stage with an energy that has the younger audience members out of their seats and dancing. Some cast members appear unsure of the movement to begin but by the end of the show (Green Eggs and Ham) all are completely in time and dancing with confidence.
Seussical the Musical is a treat and although it may be a half-hour walk from the Royal Mile, it’s worth it. Take your children and let them see a standard of performance that they can aspire to, or go alone and blubber in wonder as I did.