Article by Rian Barrett
Seussical the Musical, the 2017 SMIS, SIS, and ISSH musical premiered April 21st at St. Mary’s and continued to perform for the following two days. The musical carries the viewers into the world of Dr. Seuss (the famous children’s book author) and explores his numerous past stories. The musical was organised by the director, Mr. Hagans, and assistant director, Ms. Bassett, who brought the musical to successful production.
To begin, it is important to know a little about Seuss’s work. Dr. Seuss’s style of work fits the phrase “suited for all”. In 1954, Life magazine said “that children were no longer reading because books weren’t entertaining.” Thus it became a goal to publish books that children would willingly pick up. This goal was soon accomplished in the form of a book called “The Cat in the Hat.”
The reason for its success come from the fact that it is a book originally meant to help get children to read; however, there was a method behind its success. One of the most obvious child attracting elements of his writing style were the lyrical stanzas he used. His writing can be sung, read, hollered, and more. His versatile and flexible writing suits children as well as does the toys they play with.
Another thing that can be said about the style of writing used by Dr. Seuss is how everything ends up chaotic—From a regular day at home or in bed, to a chaotic adventure with a human sized cat. Sounds familiar doesn’t it? Exactly. This is the style Dr. Seuss used in his writing. Such irregularity occurs over and over in Dr. Seuss’s writing, and it fits children’s need to have a little bit of chaos in their life. It sounds simple, but there’s actually a name for it: escalating sequence. In Dr. Seuss, we go from normal to chaotic and back to normal. From reality to imagination and back to reality. The action escalates, multiplies, then resolves, and the key to its success is how this structure of writing matches children’s need for play and then a solid conclusion.
The Musical begins in the real world, and the boy Jojo is guided into the Jungle of Nool where well known character Horton the Elephant is present. The kind hearted elephant discovers a speck of dust containing Whoville and decides that he must protect the people of Whoville. However, Horton eventually faces conflict with other animals from the forest who think he has gone mad. They take away the speck of dust and then put him on trial for insanity. Even when Horton faces tough times, his kind neighbor Gertrude McFuzz never loses faith in him and manages to help him while keeping the people of Whoville safe. The Musical manages to teach the lessons of the perils of being unique and the importance of having faith in what you believe.
The whole set was built by the students, and they were very successful. Their main design had a traditional Dr. Seuss look. From the staircases that were in the centre of the stage to the smallest parts. They were outlandishly surreal like the illustrations used in the Seuss stories. The Seussian wide variety of bright colors were also incorporated into creating the design so that it looked almost like a cartoon.
“Seussical” was acted out very well. Stefano as the Cat in the Hat played his role right on point: playfully, mischievous but also warm and friendly. From scenes that broke the fourth wall to ensemble acting, Stefano fit into the musical flawlessly: popping up in the crowd to talk to the audience, and leaving the hall through the doors but not going backstage he continuously broke the fourth wall and made the play connect with audience, becoming something like a video game and making them part of the play. Other classic Seuss characters who gave dynamic performance included: Sam Wilson as Horton, Ekamjot Bedi as General Khan, Sabia Faden as Gertrude McFuzz, Kai Henri Atobe as JoJo, but all the performers came through very strongly. Also, the Band astonished the crowd with their music which became the backbone of the musical.
You might be wondering, is there really a reason to go watch musicals? Some St. Mary’s students say a musical sounds feminine to begin with and lacks the action for it to be entertaining. However, the musical was truly great entertainment. It was also a rich opportunity for students from all three schools to get to know each other through the work done collaborating on such a big show. Most especially, the actual play had a really good message.