The Placer Performance Calendar


Great Local Shows - Theatrical Reviews

Title Seussical
Organization Take Note Troupe
Date(s) of show November 14-22, 2014
Reviewer Dick Frantzreb

This is the fifth production of Seussical that I’ve seen in the last 3 years, and each one has special delights.  This show was as much fun as the first one that I saw.

This was opening night at the Lincoln Civic Center.  It’s not really set up for theatrical productions:  no built in lights, no proscenium, no curtain, etc.  But in the end, none of those things were necessary.  The enthusiastic audience of about 150 – 175 certainly didn’t think so.

I sensed that the Take Note Troupe was a little on edge because the girl who was to play Jojo, woke up sick, and there was no understudy.  However, young Henry Thomas, who had played the part of Horton in a different production of Seussical, was recruited to fill in – and he really rose to the occasion.  At times he seemed a bit self-conscious and unsure, but if anything that was endearing, and he sang and acted beautifully.

The cast was huge, perhaps as many as 50, and when they all sang, they produced a good ensemble sound.  There was a lot of clever choreography, too.  Perhaps this is a show that demands it, but it seemed like this group of young people were just overflowing with energy.  You could see that especially in the six Wickershams.  They were always monkeying around and seemed to have especially great fun with their roles.  At intermission, the stage had to be cleaned up from paper scraps that had been strewn about.  One girl was running a vacuum cleaner, but it was ineffective.  So they called in the Wickershams, and they picked up the paper scraps individually – in character, and even sometimes pretending to eat them.  As far as I could tell, the audience, chatting among themselves, were oblivious to these antics.

I saw a lot of good acting throughout the show.  For one, McKay Williams was an enigmatic and mercurial Cat-in-the-Hat.   There were a lot of good voices on display among the principal characters, too.  Brooklyn Davis gave a soulful Sour Kangaroo.  Abby Brown as Mayzie rocked.  Michael Anderson as Horton the Elephant really put across his two songs.  Henry Thomas as Jojo sang surprising well for as young as he is.  I was also impressed with the singing (and acting) of Joses Watford and Danielle Gandola as Mr. and Mrs. Mayor.  They might be the best in those parts of all the productions I’ve seen.   And Ryann Bailey as Gertrude was a delight to watch – and hear.  It seemed to me that she really grasped the comic potential of her part – and played it perfectly.  And amid the wacky action in this show there were some really endearing characters, especially among the younger Whos, with their cute costumes and choreography and distinctive movements.  And who wouldn’t love the flamboyant Bird Girls… or the fish in McElligot’s Pool, etc.

Some parts of this production were rough:  for example, the ensemble movements weren’t very precise.  And there were occasional sound and lighting problems, and some singers had to use hand-held mics (rather than body mics) – and pass them around.  But what I saw was so many young people giving their performance everything they had.  For me, watching them was energizing and even inspiring, especially when I noticed actors with minor parts, far away from the main action, just having fun with their small part and making the most of it.

The audience just ate all this up:  laughing and applauding enthusiastically throughout and cheering and clapping in time to the finale number.  Sure, most of them were friends and family of the performers, but there was a lot more at work here.  For a start, it’s a clever show with a lot of great music.  And there’s one cute actor or dance move or staging effect after another.  I only stopped smiling when I was laughing out loud.  Take Note Troupe has been notable for years for their improv shows and summer Shakespeare productions.  As far as I know, this is only the second musical they have staged, and it looks like they’re onto something good.

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