Review: SEUSSICAL at Manukau Performing Arts

The Production runs from 13th-27th April

By: Apr. 16, 2024
Review: SEUSSICAL at Manukau Performing Arts
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Review by Sharon Fogarty

The stories of Dr. Suess, colourful characters, toe-tapping music and strong dancers and vocalists, adds up to a great night's entertainment for the whole family these school holidays.

Broadway World was excited to be invited into this colourful world of mischief and creativity for Manukau Performing Arts' final dress rehearsal. Director Dragon Chen has assembled a multi-talented cast in her musical directorial debut. This cast can sing, dance and act- playing multiple roles- with multiple costume changes, seamlessly. Vocal Coach, Bridie Allen, has created a sound that fills the theatre, particularly in the large group numbers with harmonies echoing around the space. Choreographers Madeleine Waller and Sophie Cranwell have worked well together to develop dances that are fun, fast and suit the ability of the cast and space.

Having seen Seussical multiple times myself, it was refreshing to see a different take on some of the scenes, dances and props. The nod to Dr. Suess' artwork in the oversize props and set was respectful and much appreciated by someone who grew up reading and then teaching these stories. My 9 year-old son was bobbing along to the music, singing the songs and laughing out loud at the many comic moments. My 15 year-old was most entertained by the Cat in the Hat played by Oliver Johnston because "he had lots of different characters and voices and was really funny". Johnston's physical comedy matches his energy and his comedic timing makes his portrayal of this iconic character very amusing to watch.

Emily Brown as Jojo brings a wide-eyed innocence to the role which matches her sweet vocals. Reuben Su'a and Emma-Rose Owens play Horton and Getrude with sweet believability. Their commitment to character was evident in every scene and vocally they are a stunning match. Dialling up the sass in the show are Mayzie and the Sour Kangaroo- played by Caitlin Penty and Nicolette Nes. Penty's swagger and vocal confidence commanded the stage, particularly in 'Amayzing Mayzie'. Nes' runs and trills showed she is a seasoned performer and both of these characterisations left my youngest son with questions about why they were so mean and selfish towards Horton. Seussical is a true ensemble show with many opportunities for small roles to stand out- Andrew Scott (General Ghengis Khan Schmitz) was a particular highlight for me- vocally his voice is rich and commanding, but his commitment to character overrode this and was even more impressive. 

Another highlight for me was the costuming and make up design- this show delivered with bright, colourful and fanciful costumes, aswell as linking costuming with set design. Mayzie's costume in particular was glamorous and eye-catching and complemented her 'Bird girls' in the best kind of "Vegas-showgirl" way. The make up design ensured the animals came to life and were easily identifiable. 

This is a show that the whole family will enjoy whether they are familiar with the wonder of Dr. Seuss stories or not.

Seussical opens Saturday 13th April and runs the whole of the school holidays. 

Bookings here


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