Review: SEUSSICAL at Patti Strickel Harrison Theatre

Texas State University Department of Theatre and Dance

Austin Music Nonprofit Beat 4 Beat to Host Fundraiser After Recent BurglariesThe Texas State University Department of Theatre and Dance gives SEUSSICAL a genius makeover and renews our faith in humanity.

If you go to this production of SEUSSICAL expecting to see the typical cartoon-like characters of Dr. Seuss' stories, you will be highly disappointed. However, what you will find on the Patti Strickel Harrison stage is a much more compelling story that portrays real people. People with beautiful imperfections, unique personalities, and individual hopes and dreams that make them so absolutely human. In Scarlata's SEUSSICAL, we get to discover new underlying themes that finally make sense of the imaginary world of Dr. Seuss. Mr. Scarlata gives us a lot to think about. In his vision of SEUSSICAL, we get to admire the bravery of those that live their lives at the beat of their own drums. We learn that to change traditions, we may need to create a bit of mischief first. We remember that community requires neighbors that will do the impossible to help a fellow human in need. Mr. Scarlata shows understanding for those that may choose a life that doesn't include parenthood and he warms our hearths with a happy ending that even includes a blended family.

In this reimagining of SEUSSICAL, we embark on a magical adventure with JoJo as they take us on a journey of self-acceptance. They go from total innocence to resignation, then hope, and finally find the strength to stand up and scream "this is who I am". It is through Morgan Montgomery's (JoJo) genuine naivete that we can understand JoJo's struggle to fight against conformity and social constructs and realize that if we truly listened, we could actually be able to hear even the smallest voices hidden in a clover.

Jojo isn't alone as they try to figure out how to navigate their personal transformation and growth. They have the master of mischief to guide them along the way. Cayla Primous as The Cat in The Hat, delivers a delightful performance. She moves through the stage with feline poise and graces the audience with her vocal abilities in every scene. She brings honest curiosity to the character, encouraging everyone, including the audience, to challenge the status quo and free the power of imagination. As she stirs the pot to better the plot, we are left wondering if we should all be a little bit more like The Cat in the Hat and stir our own pot for the better of society.

Horton the Elephant is certainly "not alone in the Universe" as the entire audience is rooting for them to get the happy ending that they very much deserve. Horton is the friend that we all want to have: reliable, loyal, and pure of heart. They don't question when asked to help, they don't waiver in their determination to do what's right. Connor Lewis (Horton, the Elephant) is so endearing that at times one may want to jump on that nest and give them a hug but we wouldn't want to get in trouble with Gertrude McFuzz, played by the very talented Madeleine Bourgeois. Madeleine may be small in stature but she is a big star, commanding the stage with her powerful voice and perfect comedic timing.

Mayzie is a complex character that is often underdeveloped when the story is told for younger audiences. Alex Aponte has the kind of star power that Mayzie deserves, giving this eternal diva the human dimension that renders her forgivable at last.

Rounding up the cast are the talented and fun Anna Gassett, Emma Elizabeth Smith, Zephaniah Wages, and Ian Deane (Bird Girls), the impossible urban couple of Whoville: the perky, perfectly coiffed, and delightful Taylor Aronson (Mrs. Mayor) and the hilarious Brandon Doan (Mr. Mayor), Hailey Thomas as the sassy Sour Kangaroo. Carson Palmer (General Schmitz), Albert Igbinigie (Yertle the Turtle), and Chance Friedman (Grinch). The fabulous ensemble includes: Albert Igbinigie, Andrew Fleming, Allan Lopez, Cameron Thomas, Kimmi Zimmerman, Lacey Kohn in the Jungle Ensemble and Chance Friedman, Maggie Gidden, Peyton Herzog, Ana Paula Monterrubio, Emiliano Morales, Joshua Quidilla, Hailey Thomas, Eden Witvoet in the Who Ensemble.

With musical numbers that range from ballet, to Broadway jazz, to tap, much of the story is conveyed through dance. Choreographed by Cassie Abate, the cast of SEUSSICAL can put on a show that parallels the best of Broadway.

Mr. Scarlata leverages the company members' unique personalities and artistry, bringing to the stage the colorful world of Dr. Seuss through diversity, amazing music numbers, fun costumes, and a lot of talent. Every single performer is a star in the making and I can't wait to see what the future has in store for them.

"After all of those years being stuck on a page, did you ever imagine you'd see me on stage? Now I'm here there's no telling what may ensue, with a cat such as me and a thinker like you!" - The Cat in the Hat gives us the perfect quote to summarize how I feel about the collaboration between the imagination of Dr. Seuss, the genius of Ryan Scarlata, and the talented cast and crew of SEUSSICAL!

Seussical the Musical

Texas State University's Patti Strickel Harrison Theatre

April 19 - 24

Book by Lynn Ahrens and Stephen Flaherty
Music by Stephen Flaherty
Lyrics by Lynn Ahrens
Directed by Ryan Scarlata

Photo Credit: Lauren P Jurgemeyer



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From This Author - Sabrina Wallace

Sabrina Wallace is a Drama Desk Winner and Tony Award Nominated Producer (The Prom), Blogger, World Traveler, and Leader at a High Tech Giant. She is a strong supporter of Theatre and t... (read more about this author)


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