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
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
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.