Reviewed by Tony Annicone
Rhode Island College Theatre’s closing show of their season is “Seussical, the Musical”, which creates the witty, wild and whimsical world of Dr. Seuss. It reveals a world where anything is possible from an elephant in a tree, to a person too tiny to see, to a heroic child and dreams running wild. The show is a magical, musical world where helping a friend, never giving up and keeping a promise comes true.
The original show opened on Broadway on November 30, 2000 and ran for 198 performances. It is a re-imagining of Dr. Seuss, which weaves many of his famous stories and characters together in unexpected ways. The Tony Award winning team of Lynn Ahrens and Stephen Flaherty who wrote “Ragtime” and “Once on this Island”, created the book and the score that includes pop, gospel and R&B numbers. The story begins with the Cat in the Hat appearing to Jo Jo of the Whos and narrates the proceedings while popping in and out of various storylines. It will take The Cat, Horton, the Elephant, Gertrude McFuzz and a gaggle of characters to bring harmony back to their world. Director Bill Wilson, music director, Anthony Torelli and choreographer Angelica Vessella bring this fantastic and high energy show to life with incredible college performers, colorful sets and costumes, making it a must see show of this spring season.
Leading this talented cast is Taylor Santoro as The Cat in the Hat. He commands the stage with her dynamic portrayal as this mischievous character. His many different accents are hilarious and his interactions with other cast members is astounding. His voice is powerful whether he is singing directly to the audience or the other characters. Taylor plays the part of the news caster, the quack doctor and circus owner. He leads the cast in many numbers including the opening song “The Thinks You Can Think” which tells them to be imaginative and think for themselves. It turns into a huge dance number. Taylor also does a vaudeville type number called “How Lucky You Are” which tells you to be satisfied with what you have in your life as well as “Havin’ A Hunch” with Jo Jo to make him think to help him return home. Christian Ferreira plays the little boy, JoJo from Who. Some of his songs are “It’s Possible” which begins as a solo in the bathtub and turns into a chorus number with the fish doing a ballet then a jazzy dance, “Alone in the Universe” a pretty ballad sung with Horton and “Havin’ a Hunch” which he sings with the Cat and chorus about how he can get back to Whoville. The third leading player is the talented Joe DeLeo as Horton. Dressed as an elephant, he dances up a storm while his acting ability endears you to the tender-hearted Horton. His philosophy is a person is a person no matter how small. Joe has a beautiful tenor voice which he displays in many numbers including “Horton Hears a Who”, “Alone in the Universe” with , and “How Lucky You Are” reprise. His character shows how to be a true friend even after he is captured by hunters, put into a circus and then put on trial for trying to rescue the Whos because Horton is the only one who can hear them. Joe’s most poignant number is “Solla Sollew” which brings tears to your eyes at his tender rendition of it.
Mary Arnold plays Gertrude McFuzz, a bird who is in love with Horton. She has only one tail feather but with the help of a quack doctor, she keeps growing more feathers. Mary does a marvelous job as this insecure bird who finally helps Horton by being herself again. Some of her wonderful numbers are “The One Tail Feather of Gertrude McFuzz”, “Notice Me Horton” and “All For You” where she admits everything she has done is because she loves Horton. The flamboyant bird, Mayzie is played as a sexy vamp by Stephanie Barney who leaves her egg with Horton so she can take a vacation in Palm Beach. She sings “Amazing Mayzie”, a Latin number, “How Lucky” with the Cat and “Amazing Horton” when she leaves her egg with him. The Bird Girls are played by Kasey Geronimo, Drew Leonard and Brooklyn Toli who are not only marvelous dancers but terrific vocalists, too. Another dynamic vocalist is Lauren Pothier as the Sour Kangaroo. Her powerful voice is heard in the gospel song “Biggest Blame Fool”, “Chasing the Whos” and “The People Versus Horton the Elephant” and is hilarious as this argumentative creature.
Other comical characters include Jon Klos and Helena Tafuri as the not too bright parents of Jo Jo,who send him off to war, and they sing “Here on Who”, “Chasing the Whos” and the prettiest ballad in the show “Solla Sollew” with Horton and the chorus. Remy DeJoseph plays mean and crazy General who leads the children into war in “Green Eggs and Ham” and Vincent Baskerville Jr. as Yertle the Turtle Who is the judge in the courtroom song. Kudos to everyone who brings these larger than life characters to life. So for a fun filled trip back to the land of Dr. Seuss as well as many happy memories for both children and adults, be sure to catch “Sessical” at Rhode Island College.
SEUSSICAL (20 to 23 April)
Rhode Island College Theatre, Roberts Auditorium, 600 Mount Pleasant Ave, Providence, RI
1(401)456-8144 or www.ric.edu