26 October 2009
Seussical: A Night of Dr. Seuss
Stepping in to the Bradford Area High School auditorium, I was expecting what I was
about to see would be a mediocre show of talent, what I got was much different. In choosing
Seussical for their musical of the year, the Bradford High music department made a wise
decision. Seussical incorporated various sections of the famous works of Dr. Seuss including
works such as Horton Hears a Who, How the Grinch Stole Christmas, and The Cat in the Hat.
Many of the main characters were from Horton Hears a Who including Horton the Elephant
(Ryan Marshall), Mazy (Chelsea Colosimo), a bird, and Gertrude McFuzz (Leah Costic), also a
bird. The musical tells the story of Horton the Elephant desperately trying to save the people of
Whoville while caring for Mazy’s newborn bird child. Seussical also incorporates a love drama
with Gertrude McFuzz’s relentless efforts to try and gain the attention of Horton. The play
catered to all of the talents of the many different high school kids working on it, and it allowed
for many of their greatest talents to shine. Whether it was the props, costumes, actors, music,
transitions, or length, all aspects of the musical were well done and overall made for quite a good
When I entered the auditorium, I was instantly taken aback by the props throughout the
area. Each one was done with care and had great detail, so much so that the audience itself
probably could not even see all of the hard work. Take for example a perch made for the
outlandish character Mazy, who was a bird. Not only was the actor able to sit on her nest at the
top of the perch, but she was able to move around comfortably and realistically. All of the props
captured the attention of the viewer, yet still did not draw away from the show. The bright colors
and crazy designs threw you into the world of Dr. Seuss’s works, on which the play was based
and made me feel as though I was actually in the fantasy, although I was still sitting in a boring
auditorium. Not only were the props excellent, the craftsmanship of the costumes was fantastic.
Seussical has a sort of mystical air to it, and it has some crazy aspects. Many of the
characters are animals, so you would assume that the costumes would be far from realistic.
Granted, the human actors did not look exactly like the animals they were portraying, but the
costumes they wore did give you the best sense possible of the animal that they were portraying.
The grey clothing and small, but obvious trunk, worn by Ryan Marshall (Horton the Elephant)
made his character in the play stand out just enough that I knew who he was supposed to be, but
not too much that it drew away from the other characters. The costumes also helped the viewer
to develop a general sense of the character. Many of the personalities of the characters were
portrayed through their dress, whether it was the plain, simple outfit of Gertrude, a bird who was
very shy and introverted, or the bright, eye-catching outfit of Mazy, a rambunctious, extroverted
character. All of these costumes gave the characters a visually suggestive aspect that was
important to understanding and developing the play. In developing the characters, the costumes
played a large role, but so did the actors themselves.
It was obvious that the actors in this play worked extremely hard on their parts. They
knew all of their lines, they were rarely off key with the music and they always knew where they
belonged on stage, even through difficult dance routines. The actors were also clearly very
involved in their roles. The emotions that they portrayed were apparent in every aspect of the
actors’ demeanor, whether it was the look of their face or their body gestures. At one point,
while actor Ryan Marshall (Horton the elephant) was involved in a heart wrenching scene, his
reactions and emotions were so realistic it brought tears to my eyes. The actors were so on task
and so prepared for the show that they could have easily been performing professionally. The
actors also did an amazing job singing their parts, making the quality of acting even greater.
The music in the play was tremendous. Yes, there was the occasional actor off key or off
beat, but for the most part the actors and the band were right on. The songs sounded as though
they were very difficult, but the actors and instrumentalists made them seem easy. I could
clearly tell that the singers were becoming tired at the end of the production, but the music was
still quite good. The notes sounded correct and the timing was right for the most part, overall the
music aspect of the musical was strong. Through all of the difficult singing, the actors still
managed to assist in the transitions of scenes.
The scene transitions within Seussical went quite smoothly. They never took an
excessive amount of time and were often incorporated right into the dance numbers and
movements of the actors. As with any live production, it is obvious that props are changing, but
the style with which the production crew of the musical pulled the transitions off was
immaculate. It must have taken many creative hours to choreograph the moves with which the
props would be pushed ever so slightly on and off stage while there was still acting and singing
happening around those moving the set around. Also, actors often remained acting on or within
the props while they were moving across the stage. These smooth transitions from scene to
scene also allowed the play to stick to a pretty reasonable length.
Often, productions at the Bradford Area High School are excessively long and make a
person want to just leave before the end. Seussical was a decent length, although a little drawn
out at times. By the end I could no longer wait to know what was going to happen and the actors
just kept singing and singing. At one point I recall thinking that I could easily just go find out
what happened at home by asking a friend or someone who had seen the musical, but then the
play would grab my attention and drew my back in. Yes, the play was easily in excess of two
hours, but for the most part all of the combined good aspects of the play had a way of capturing
your attention even when you drifted off.
Judging from the past history of the musical department at Bradford Area High School,
the 2009 production was a serious improvement. The passion with which the entire play was
produced was phenomenal. The props were magnificent, the costumes were eye catching and the
actors themselves were clearly dedicated. It seemed as though the people who took part in the
production of the musical were truly interested and dedicated. Through many long hours and
tons of hard work, those who assisted in making Seussical possible did a wonderful job.