Oakton High School
From an egg nursing elephant stuck in a tree to tiny Who people too tiny to see, Annandale High School's Seussical was such a treat, you'd think you'd have seen it on Mulberry Street!
Seussical is the brainchild of Stephen Flaherty, Lynn Ahrens, and Eric Idle, who took care and great tact in the great balancing act of interlacing over twenty of Theodor Seuss Geisel's (or more popularly, Dr. Seuss's) iconic children's books into one cohesive story. Originally opening on Broadway in 2000, the show has enjoyed numerous tours, a West End production, and a Tony Award nomination for lead actor.
The story begins on the Fifteenth of May, in the Jungle of Nool, when Horton the Elephant hears a small noise from a tiny speck of dust that he soon discovers to be an entire world of microscopic people, the Whos. Chaos ensues when Horton is tasked with persuading his narrow-minded fellow citizens of Nool that a person's a person no matter how small. Cleverly interwoven with real life allegories ranging from bigotry to cold war tensions, the musical masterfully masks morals with fantasy in the way Dr. Seuss does best.
Playing the famous hat-wearing cat himself, Kyle Dalsimer made sure no one was left in a lurch as the show's narrator, the Cat in the Hat. Dalsimer channeled the fun-loving first-rate feline with ease, jumping on the set and into minor characters faster than you can say Seuss! From a German bird doctor to pool boy named Jose, Dalsimer made sure his character range was as jaw dropping as his vocal range.
Every story needs a hero and Jack Dalrymple stepped up to the plate (and the nest) as the ever so earnest Horton the Elephant. Dalrymple's portrayal of the persevering pachyderm left the audience longing for Solla Sollew with the resonating feeling of being alone in the universe.
Helping Horton feel less alone was his one true friend in the universe, JoJo the Who, wonderfully played by Claire Vaughn. More than mere one fish, two fish, Vaughn exhibited JoJo's imagination to be as vast as an ocean (or at least McElligot's Pool).
Playing the mean marsupial herself, Nia Collins blew the audience away with her big and brassy voice in numbers from Biggest Blame Fool to The People Versus Horton the Elephant. Oh, the places she and her voice went!
The ensembles of the show were constantly on with the necessary energy to keep children engaged. From the suave Wickersham Brothers (Mariam Sesay, Alexander Ohene, Jackson Fornaris) to the harmonizing Bird Girls (Rediate Zewdu, Savannah Gravitt, Elvera Miller, Amanda Weaver), the characters were committed through and through. And they succeeded (98 and 3/4 percent guaranteed)!
The sets (Viann Tran, Jeremy Berry) were painted in bright colors with Seussian black outlining and detail that seemed to be pulled out of a 2-D picture book. And actors lovingly scribbled all over it with their blocking that actively used the set (complete with rope bridge and slide) for functional fun. In short, the set was grand enough to keep even Yertle the Turtle satisfied.
Equally as exciting as the set were costumes (Alex Ohene, Lena Iglesias, Polly Thach). From JoJo's subtle pops of color in the sea of monochromatic Whos to the Cat's many hats, it was clear costumes not only were part of the story but enhanced it to fly to astonishing heights.
So... be your name Buxbaum or Bixby or Bray or Mordecai Ali Van Allen O'Shea, the production of Seussical at Annan-del-e was a wonderful performance in every which way!
Stone Bridge High School
A top hat wielding cat springs from a striped box, drawing the audience into a world of protective pachyderms, "Amazying" displays of colorful plumage, and a jungle full of vocal powerhouses. Annandale High School's production of Seussical utilized every component of the stage to craft a colorful and lively trip into a world of childhood imagination.
Seussical the musical, based on the beloved, imaginative works of Dr. Seuss, premiered in 2000, and has since experienced multiple runs on Broadway. Although it features favorite Dr. Seuss characters such as the Grinch and Yertle the Turtle, Seussical centers around kind-hearted elephant Horton and his attempts to protect the small world of Whoville, which he has discovered atop a small speck of dust. The Cat in the Hat acts as the show's narrator, encouraging young Whoville resident JoJo to embrace the power of imagination, while also popping up to play a multitude of smaller roles. Horton endures endless trials and tribulations at the hands of the mocking and cruel jungle animals, but is propelled forward by an unwavering sense of loyalty and belief that "a person's a person, no matter how small."
The Cat in the Hat (Kyle Dalsimer) led the cast with an energetic, feline physicality, as well as expert versatility, playing a heavily accented cosmetic surgeon one moment and a drawling auctioneer the next with the mere addition of a new hat or prop. The Cat frequently broke the fourth wall in order to further immerse the audience in the show, whether it involved wailing and sobbing into an unsuspecting audience member's shirt, or gifting an excited child with a Dr. Seuss book.
Each actor and actress seized their moment in the spotlight and utilized their unique vocal talents to bring their roles alive. Horton (Jack Dalrymple) was the pinnacle of loyalty and strength, showcasing his heartwarming sincerity during numbers such as "Alone in the Universe." Horton connected emotionally with JoJo (Claire Vaughn), who committed to her role with an authentic sense of childlike wonder and excellent vocal control. Gertrude Mcfuzz (Emily Trachsel) fully embraced her girl-next-door persona, and delivered sweet, emotional pleas in numbers such as "Notice Me, Horton."
Opposing the more genuine characters, Mayzie La Bird dazzled the audience by flaunting her feathers and flighty personality, and the Sour Kangaroo (Nia Collins) played the perfect antagonist, stealing the spotlight of every musical number she appeared in with her killer vocals and phenomenal showmanship.
The set further enhanced the show by providing an incredible backdrop to the actors' stunning performances. Both the set and the props were expertly painted in a colorful, 2D fashion, appearing to have been pulled straight from the pages of a Dr. Seuss book. In addition, whenever a prop or new set piece needed to appear onstage, stage crew would run out in "Thing 1" and "Thing 2" costumes, which prevented any disruption of the flow of the show, and maintained the whimsical, upbeat feeling of the production.
With every cast member completely dedicated to bringing the vibrant, energetic visions of Dr. Seuss alive, Annandale High School instilled pure childlike wonder and whimsy into their performance of Seussical.