Herndon High School’s ‘Seussical’ plays to all hearts: tech magic, vocal elegance, charm, and innocence encapsulated!


December 13, 2013

All reviews are written by Cappies student critics and edited by Cappies adult mentors prior to publishing.

Stuart Pratuch, a student at West Springfield High School , reviews “Seussical the Musical” performed by Herndon High School as part of The Cappies Critics and Awards Program.

A little boy picks up a hat. What could go under that? Maybe a flat or a bat. Maybe even a cat! Why, it is a cat! It's the Cat in the Hat! drawing us into the whimsical world of Dr. Seuss. And so begins Herndon High School's production of Seussical the Musical.

Seussical opened on Broadway on November 28th, 2000 at the Richard Rodgers Theatre with music by Stephen Flaherty and lyrics by Lynn Ahrens. The show closed after only 198 performances due to mediocre reviews. Since then, the musical has been heavily edited and become a heavy staple of regional, community, and school productions. It follows multiple storylines of well-known Dr. Seuss stories. These imaginative tales predominantly include Horton Hears a Who and Horton Hatches the Egg, but feature a multitude of other fantasies such as "If I Ran the Circus", "Oh, the Thinks You Could Think!", and "One Fish Two Fish Red Fish Blue Fish".

The complicated storyline and troubles with characters were handled very well by Herndon's production. Drew Lytle's performance of the Cat in the Hat was completely committed, constantly reacting to those around him and always drawing the attention of the audience to his merriment. Lytle's portrayal was further complemented by sixth grader Henry Metcalf's Jojo. The two shared a fantastic chemistry with each other, contributing to an innocent charm felt throughout the play. Jojo also shared great chemistry with Horton the Elephant played by Hunter Robinson especially in "Alone in the Universe". Robinson further amazed by carefully crafting his approach onstage, taking on the role and preserving the energy needed to capture such a kind and caring creature.

The multiple ensembles also attacked this challenge head on. The Wickersham Brothers (Solomon Dixon, Nathan Burns, and Nathan Hawn) maintained monkey mannerisms persistently throughout their time onstage acting and reacting even out of the limelight or, rather, bananalight. Meanwhile, the Bird Girls (Veronica McGrath, Sarah Overton, Joy Collins, and Brooke Nyren) chirped and tweeted their smooth and tranquil vocal harmonies superbly while they flew about the stage.

Several of the technical aspects also stood out. The set was designed so that the childlike nature of Seuss's stories could come out in a fanciful manner, but also allowed functionality as each and every part was used by the cast. The costume department created a magnificent array of outfits ranging from zoo animals to a stout over-the-top general's uniform for a large and invigorating cast. Some distractions came from what appeared to be microphone problems, but the story still held up remarkably well. With over a hundred lighting cues, there were some falters in this daunting task yet the lighting crew handled the challenge very well. The thirty-six person pit orchestra never once overpowered the actors onstage and approached Flaherty's difficult score with outstanding ease as each and every note was audible.

The show closes as Jojo places the Cat in the Hat's hat on his head and the brim covers his eyes. He shouts "Think!" as the lights fade away. Herndon's merry production of Seussical receives thunderous applause as the parade of colors, imaginative creatures, and Seuss's concoctions leave the stage, revealing the powers of what can happen when you truly consider all the ‘thinks’ you could think!

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