Review: “Seussical the Musical’ at Charm City Players

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“Now, imagine a curtain and what lies behind; the kind of a place you might see in your mind… From the page to the stage, come along and enjoy — this tale of an elephant, a bird, a Cat in the Hat, and a boy!”

7723d1be267c82d9f7b20f697416588eSeussical the Musical, (with music by Stephen Flaherty and lyrics by Lynn Ahrens), where all nineteen books from Dr. Seuss merge into one and come to life stage! Charm City Players takes a unique approach in bringing this story to life from the top of the show. Unlike most performances that have been done over the years, the opening number here starts with Jojo (Logan Dubel) opening this huge “Cat in the Hat” book and the Cat coming off the page and onto the stage.

As the opening number starts you hear the live orchestra conducted by Gregory Lauer and a larger-than-life set created by Steven Napp and Annmarie Pallanck. Center stage you see a stack of books, one on top of the other from various Dr. Seuss stories, leading to the top where “Whoville” is located. This created a multilevel set used to let our imaginations wonder into the start of our story.

The cat, played by Joseph Haddad, narrates us though the world of Dr. Seuss with the starting number “Oh, the Thinks You Can Think,” which urges boys to open up his mind to a world full of possibilities and wonders. The Cat introduces other various characters that we will see through the story. He tells the boy to think of an Elephant named Horton (James Gilbert), think of the Whos and Whoville too tiny to see. Mr. Gilbert is that loveable teddy bear that everyone loves and fits this role perfectly. As Horton meets the Whos, the Cat brings the boy into the story to play Jojo, son of the Mayor of Whoville (Jeff Baker) and Mrs. Mayor (Christina Napp).

As the story progresses, Jojo faces trouble in Whoville for thinking too much, and the jungle animals mock Horton for believing that the invisible Whos exist. We see this in the Jungle of Nool number where Sour Kangaroo (JacQuan Knox) plays a soulful rendition of “Biggest Blame Fool” with the other jungle animals. Some of those animals including a menacing and mischievous group of monkey brothers, the Wickershmams (Chris Fotis, Brandon Shaw, and Tate Tiemann). Horton’s persistence and dedication catch the eye of his shy neighbor Gertrude McFuzz (Grace Kane), who uses just enough quirkiness in her role to have the audience laughing as she tries so hard to get Horton to notice her.

The cast of 'Seussical the Musical.' Photo courtesy of Charm City Players.
The cast of ‘Seussical the Musical.’ Photo courtesy of Charm City Players.

Horton, on the other hand, has no time for Gertrude. He is too busy egg-sitting for the flighty Mayzie La Bird (Hannah Gutin-Creech), who does a wonderful job playing the attention seeking, diva. Ultimately, all the characters gather for a trial against Horton for foreseeable, but satisfying conclusion.

The Large cast of 50 worked very well together in which 30 of them are kids. Everything was well staged by Director Stephen Napp. Highlights of the show included “The Military Academy” led by John A Gurtshaw who had an extremely strong performance as General Genghis Kahn Schmitz, “Alone in the Universe” Sung by Horton (Gibert) and Jojo (Dubel) and “Notice Me Horton’ Sung by Gertrude (Kane) with some amazing vocals.

A few dancers that particularly stood out were Rozelle Polido as a bird girl with her polished dance moves along with Sandra Boldman and Maggie Flannigan as ensemble members.

Seussical the Musical plays through March 20, 2016, at Mercy High School – 1300 East Northern Parkway, in Baltimore, MD.. For Tickets call (410) 937-2935, or purchase them online.
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Screenshot_2016-03-15-09-08-41As a restaurant manager by day she’s been her free time as an actress, choreographer, and model. Kristin Rigsby has been involved in theater for over 15 years, and when this opportunity arose to be a reviewer, she was excited to see her thoughts brought to life.