BWW Reviews: ENCORE Entertainers' SEUSSICAL THE MUSICAL! Proves a Person's a Person No Matter How Small
Encore Entertainers, a nonprofit Theatre Company that serves the communities of the South Bay, proudly presents SEUSSICAL THE MUSICAL! on Friday, January 31 & Saturday, February 1 at 7:30pm, and Saturday February 1 and Sunday, February 2 at 2pm at the Redondo Beach Performing Arts Center, 1935 Manhattan Beach Blvd., Redondo Beach, CA 90278. The production is directed by Summer Dey Cacciagioni with choreography by Jennifer DiBenedetto, Musical Direction by Les Wilson and set design by Marcelo Cacciagioni.
With a cast of 107 kids and adults, many of the roles are double and triple cast so more than one person can play a lead role during the run. I attended the evening performance on Friday, January 31, so this review will feature that particular cast. But given the talent on the stage, I am sure each cast member during each performance will be just as marvelous! Don't miss your opportunity to take your entire family to see this fantastical, magical, musical extravaganza this weekend!
The opening number "Oh, the Thinks You Can Think" is a wonder to behold with the entire company superbly choreographed to let us know the crazy Dr. Seuss ride that awaits. And what a crazy ride it is following Horton the Elephant (David Mitrano) as he fights for the small creatures of Whoville living on a clover and the egg left behind by its mother, the lovely but selfish Mayzie (Annie Ortiz). Horton believes, and this company proves, that a person's a person no matter how small. Trust me, the smallest actors onstage are having the time of their lives and so are their proud families in the audience.
The show is hosted by The Cat in The Hat (Tony Liakos, returning to the stage after 20 years - lucky for us!), who acts as the narrator and also plays several roles which keep the action moving along. Mr. Liakos, how could you stay away from the stage so long? The role is similar to the Emcee in "Cabaret," and I hope to see you in that role soon as your incredible energy and wondrously expressive face would surely enhance that show as well as any musical theater production.
And then there is his 8 year old daughter, Grace Liakos, who played the Baby Kangaroo with such sass that she stole every number she was in along with Serita Richardson as her Sour Kangaroo mother. These two soulful entertainers rocked the house!
Sixth grader Leah Hohauser has a lovely voice and a smile that could light up Broadway! This is her ninth ENCORE show and she totally inhabits the role of Jojo the Who, especially during the bathtub dream sequence during "It's Possible." The amazing choreography includes lots of lovely pastels, flying fish, bubbles, and kids with crazy trumpets! There are lots of amazing visual moments in the show, including floating green fireflies during Horton and Jojo's duet "Alone in the Universe."
And now let's talk about the tropical aviary members in the show, starting with the four lovely songbirds (Elise DiPaola, Meagan Hood, Janelle Jordan, and Katyana Spruth) who prance their way across the show singing backup during several numbers, mainly for the self-obsessed Mayzie (Annie Ortiz) and the single tail-feathered Gertrude (Shayli Reagan). Reagan, who just turned 14, seemed to be channeling Fanny Brice's Baby Snooks with just as much talent and personality as the well-known Broadway star. Her endearing childish behavior and lesson learned that looks are not everything but a good heart is more important, would make anyone fall in love with her. It is difficult to understand why it took Horton so long to notice her.
There are many ensembles in the show but it is the jungle creature dancers that are the most fun to watch as their choreography is done in perfect unison with great joy. And Things 1 and 2 (Kira Parrish and Belle Dunn) expertly assist The Cat in The Hat in keeping the show moving along.
It was sometimes difficult to hear the singers over the live orchestra, but I am sure the sound problems will be corrected for the rest of the weekend's performances. The cast has worked much too hard and is so dedicated to the show that each and every one of them deserves to be heard clearly.
Tickets are $22 for Terrace seating and $27 for Orchestra seating. For children (12 and under) and seniors (65 and over) tickets are $17 for Terrace seating and $22 for Orchestra seating. For tickets and additional information call (310) 896-6459 or visit www.encoreentertainers.org. Use discount code: 14FALRE to get $2 off each ticket online. Tickets are available online and at the door.
Encore Entertainers is a 501(c)3 non-profit youth theater company that strives to educate students in all aspects of the performing arts. While teaching our students to sing, dance, and act on stage in front of a live audience, we are actually teaching them much greater life lessons. Through the arts, children learn to work with others to accomplish a larger goal, how to be part of a team, and to express themselves in ways that they perhaps thought they never could.