Theatre Bristol's 'Seussical the Musical' is Appropriately Over the Top
By Tom Netherland | Special to the Herald Courier | March 10, 2008*** This story appeared in the Bristol Herald Courier on Sunday, March 9. ***
Kids like bees buzzed as if in a hive.
Brilliant colors of red, green, yellow and blue befit the Wickershams, Cat in a Hat and many a Who.
There was Horton, who hears a Who, and Mayzie, who smiles like a daisy amid the veritable zoo.
Hmmm, surely not a moose or a calaboose but yes indeedy-do, it's Dr. Seuss to me and to you.
Theatre Bristol's production of "Seussical the Musical" offers a rainbow ride through some of the more famous children'' stories by Dr. Seuss.
Scheduled to stage to the general public from March 14-16 at the Paramount Center for the Arts, the show embraces alliteration, action and all-things Seuss.
Glenn Patterson directs. Several hours before the show's first and next-to-last full dress rehearsal on the Paramount's stage, Patterson's slightly clenched jaw reflected the immediacy of the moment at hand. He talked fast. His eyes darted to and fro.
But Patterson couldn't suppress a smile.
"It is [a hoot]. This show aims for a certain exuberance," Patterson said Tuesday (March 4) night while seated about 20 rows deep in the Paramount. "It begs for abundant energy and for the actors to be more creative and extreme with their characters."
A quick spin backstage hammered that truth into stone. Kids from age 7 to adults up to about age 30 amid the cast of 26 flew about the cinder block walled backstage like birds a flutter.
They chirped and chatted and hollered and hooted as they rocked and rolled and scattered and scooted.
Two blurs stopped for a second.
"We're Whos!" said the two cute-as-a-coo, 8-year-old girls, mid-rush in preparations for the dress rehearsal.
And then, they fluttered quickly away.
So went the goings-on backstage at "Seussical the Musical."
Far out, fantastic and indeed extreme would in part describe the character of Mayzie LaBird. Enthusiastically played by 16-year-old Sierra Allen, Mayzie seemingly embodies the essence of the term "over the top."
"I love it," said Allen, a junior at Sullivan South High School. "It's a character that I can get creative with and have fun with."
Adorned in brilliant blue feathers and a topped with a sundae of sass, Mayzie should garner laughs aplenty. While Horton maintains the lead role in "Seussical the Musical," the part of Mayzie isn't far behind.
"She's why Horton is sitting on the egg," Allen said. "It's a big role."
Horton, a large grey elephant, sits on an egg. Talk about a mighty strong egg. But then, this is a mighty strong play.
And fast. Actors gassed on go, the play'' frenetic pace rarely pauses,
"This show is non-stop," he said. "It's one number after another."
Brant Colvin sings several of the show's prominent numbers, including the theme song, "Oh, the Thinks You Can Think." The 19-year-old plays Cat in the Hat. Slim as a stalk, his casting highlights the word brilliant.
"[The Cat in the Hat] is the narrator," Colvin said, just off stage left moments before rehearsal began. "He stirs everything up and causes a lot of trouble."
Does he ever. But let's not give anything away. These actors have worked too hard for that.
Regarding the storyline, Patterson said those familiar with the many books by Seuss will have no problem in discerning the show's plot.
However, this is a musical.
"The plot is mostly conveyed in the music," Patterson said. "There's very little spoken dialogue in the show. Probably the longest spoken dialogue is about 30 seconds."
Scheduled to run for 75 minutes, the show obliterates time as if driven by NASCAR's rocket Dale Earnhardt Jr. The show starts and in what seems but a blink, the actors are taking bows.
"It absolutely goes," Patterson said, as he uncrossed his legs, stood and refocused his attention upon his charges.
Does it ever go. Allen, who plays Mayzie, said she and each of the actors maintain a lightning pace.
"Oh, we're going to be sweating bullets up there for sure," Allen said.
Kids maintained their poise and nailed their lines even as they seemingly did the marionette from on stage and off and then on stage and off again. Many play multiple roles, including Colvin as Cat in the Hat, also that of the doctor and then later the judge at Horton's trial.
No sweat, indicated the soon-to-be-sweating Colvin.
"I love making people smile and making people laugh," Colvin said with a cat-like grin.
But then Patterson called him on stage.
So, with that and an adieu, the Cat in the Hat and his fellow crew sat about to take another run through "Seussical the Musical" for kids all about and also the kid in you.
IF YOU GO
What: Theatre Bristol's "Seussical the Musical"
When: March 14-15, 8 p.m., and March 16, 2:30 p.m.
Where: Paramount Center for the Arts, 518 State St., Bristol Tennessee
Tickets: $15 for adults, $12 for seniors and students, $8 for children under age 12
Info: (423) 274-8920
www.thebroadwaymusicals.com/s/seussical.htm (includes lyrics to songs featured in the play)