Quince Orchard High School
An elephant in a nest, a planet on a clover, and a cat in a hat? Anything's possible at Gainesville High School's production of Seussical!
Written by acclaimed lyricist-composer team Lynn Ahrens and Stephen Flaherty, Seussical opened on Broadway in 2000, and was followed by two national tours and a West End production. Intertwining several beloved Dr. Seuss stories, the musical follows Horton, an elephant who discovers a small speck of dust home to tiny people called Whos. Facing the ridicule of his fellow jungle animals, Horton must find the strength to protect the Whos and their world, "because after all, a person's a person no matter how small".
Oscar Larios played the role of Horton with purpose and conviction. Even in the darkest of circumstances, Larios portrayed Horton's sense of hope, such as in the touching lullaby "Solla Sollew". Larios also had believably genuine relationships with his fellow characters, especially the sweetly shy Gertrude McFuzz (Dawnie Huynh). Huynh's performance was consistently charming, and her light, bright voice was well-suited to songs including "The One-Feather Tail of Miss Gertrude McFuzz" and "All for You". Together, Larios and Huynh made for a compelling pair and performed beautiful vocal harmonies in numbers like "Notice Me, Horton".
Acting as the show's narrator and driving force, Zack Hamacher brought boundless enthusiasm to the role of the Cat in the Hat. Whether bouncing across the stage or improvising interactions with audience members, Hamacher's energy never wavered. Also memorable was Kaitlyn Couvillon as the sassy, flashy Mayzie LaBird, whose delightful performance made excellent use of movement and facial expressions. And not to be missed were the Wickersham Brothers (Isha Kargbo, Ollie Maxted, & Travis Amaya), a troop of mischievous monkeys. Swinging from monkey bars and playfully arguing in the background of the jungle, the trio displayed remarkable chemistry as they crafted an entertaining brotherly relationship.
The show's lively technical elements seemed to be pulled straight out of a Dr. Seuss book. Split between the planet of Who and the jungle of Nool, Shawn Bartlett, Ollie Maxted, and Isabella Lacson's set design paid tribute to Seuss's illustrations with its use of bright colors and squiggling lines. The set also included interactive elements such as a playground slide and jungle gym, allowing actors to fully inhabit the world onstage. Color played a large role in the show's design, including the rainbow-hued costumes of the Mayzie and the Bird Girls (created by Sydney Jones, Mackenzie Shepard, and Ash Turner). Mayzie's costume was particularly eye-catching, featuring bright red feathers and plenty of sparkle to match her larger-than-life personality. Whimsical lighting (designed by Michael Babecki, Ian Rodriguez Vega, and Katelyn Burton) employed bright greens, blues, and reds, corresponding to various locations and characters, as well as setting the mood for certain scenes. The use of a red wash and strobe lights during the song "Havin' a Hunch" was especially ingenious, making for a frighteningly fun number.
Audiences at Gainesville High School's production of Seussical need no reminding how lucky they are. With dedication, creativity, and plenty of fun, Seussical is an endearing tribute to the power of imagination, and a reminder that no one is truly alone in the universe.
Robinson Secondary School
On stage, the lights focus on a large, unattended hat and a wandering boy. The hat hides a cat, and the boy hides a brain with wonders of all the things he can think - and the cat has a knack for finding just that. With curiosity and heart, the two travel through the whimsical world created by Gainesville High School's production of "Seussical."
Written by Lynn Ahrens and Stephen Flaherty and having debuted on Broadway in 2000, "Seussical" winds through the Dr. Seuss universe, jam-packed with references to everything from "The Cat in the Hat" to "Horton Hears a Who." It focuses on Horton (Oscar Larios), the giving and hopeful elephant, and his mission to save the imaginative Jojo (Isabella Lacson) and his fellow members of Whoville while weaving in characters from a plethora of Dr. Seuss stories.
Zack Hamacher brought to life the goofy and flashy narrator, The Cat in the Hat. Whether the Cat was playing a newscaster, a doctor, or an old pianist, Hamacher gave an energetic and wacky performance by using different accents and signature movements for each character. His posse, Thing 1 and Thing 2 (Iris Reed and Arisha Thapa) were just as amusing, and their antics added entertainment to the background despite not having any lines. One of their most memorable moments was including the audience as bidders in an auction at the beginning of Act 2. As a group, the trio encapsulated the childlike energy of the show.
Dawnie Huynh shone as Gertrude, the insecure but sweet love interest of Horton. The way Hyunh spoke to the other characters and the way she carried herself across the stage embodied the shy nature of her character, which then transformed into a more confident version of Gertrude by the end. Her voice, which sounded like a lovely birdsong, was sweet and clear in "The One Feather Tail of Miss Gertrude McFuzz" and "All for You," giving a sad yet hopeful performance.
The whimsical and colorful set was designed and built by Shawn Bartlett, Ollie Maxted, Isabella Lacson, and students in Gainesville High School's technical theater class. The set was cleverly divided by a working slide coming out of a tree: the Jungle of Nool was on one side of the stage, and Whoville was on the other. The jungle had monkey bars painted to resemble trees which were primarily used by the Wickersham brothers, a trio of mischievous monkeys. The Whoville side was bright, playful, and featured stairs leading up to a gazebo where the Mayor of Whoville, his wife, and his son, Jojo, talked to Horton. The background featured a detailed, painted cityscape straight from the pages of Dr. Seuss.
The props, designed by Hayden Monk, Liz Villa, Jeremy Connelly, and crew, were fantastical and clever, bringing the world of Dr. Seuss to life. They cut pool noodles into spirals to make the bouncy and multi-colored branches of the Pillberry bush, and blue and white balloons were attached to the side of Jojo's boat to look like water bubbles. The Cat in the Hat's red piano looked like it was straight from a funhouse, with cartoon-like shading and a wavy keyboard. Thanks to the hard work of the props team, the world on stage was intricate and colorful.
As they rhymed their way through "Seussical," the cast and crew of Gainesville High School stayed true to the wackiness and heart of Dr. Seuss as well as Horton's message that "a person's a person, no matter how small."