New Castle’s ‘Seussical’ features stellar cast

By Lorraine Spencer

NEW CASTLE, Pa. — “Seussical” is my new favorite musical, thanks to the New Castle Playhouse’s wonderful production that opened Friday.

“Seussical” is a fairly new musical about, you guessed it, characters and stories from the works of Dr. Seuss. The musical, written by Stephen Flaherty and Lynn Ahrens, combines the stories of Horton the Elephant with many other Seuss creations.

The play begins when JoJo, a young boy with a wild imagination, thinks up the Cat in the Hat. Together, they create Horton, who hears a Who. Then the Cat, a mischievous fellow, sends JoJo into Whoville for an adventure of his own.

The musical follows Horton and JoJo’s intertwining stories as they fight adversity. As Horton fights to protect the planet Who and, later, an egg, JoJo must stand up for himself and his “thinks,” his original thoughts. In their adventures, they meet many familiar Seuss characters like the Grinch, Mayzie the bird, and the Wickersham monkeys. The Cat in the Hat serves as a narrator and instigator throughout.

Director Peggy Hanna has a stellar cast in “Seussical.” Every actor, from the main characters to the chorus, created memorable characters. Alan McCreary was delightful as the Cat in the Hat. He was silly and scheming and sang with a strong, commanding voice. The audience fell in love with Anthony Geramita’s kind, altruistic elephant Horton. He was sweet and sincere and sang perfectly. As Horton’s neighbor, Gertrude, Janice Hanna was adorable.

Each member of the supporting cast gave an amazing performance, including Gino Ginnetti as JoJo, Amee Boughter as Mayzie, Ticia Mangino as Sour Kangaroo, Ed Phillips and Cherie Stebner as the Mayor of Whoville and his wife, and Carly Edman, Holly Marshall, and Lisandra Stebner as the Bird Girls.

The set and costumes added to the whimsical feel of the production. The set was simple, with bright, primary colors that easily adapted to each setting in the story. Costumes also were bright and fun and suggested each character without becoming obvious or cumbersome. Amee Boughter’s choreography added life to every number. Each piece of the production fit together perfectly to create a wonderful show.

All that said, there is one thing that can weaken even the most perfect production. The two words that make any theatergoer cringe: sound problems. Sound problems are the bane of almost every community theater, and they were in abundance Friday night. The microphones caused so much static and feedback that it was often impossible to hear the actors. Which was all the more disappointing because the actors were doing such a wonderful job.

Hopefully, the sound problems will be remedied so the audience can enjoy the truly magical experience of “Seussical.”

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