The Cat (Ali Lewis) and JoJo (Dora Gehrum) bring the story of Seuss to a close… what thinks can YOU think?
Review by Alexandra Hess, Campbell County High School Critic Team
A marvelous cat.
A red and white hat.
From here to there
Dr. Seuss is everywhere.
Mercy McAuley's production of Seussical was vibrant and entertaining. Seussical was written in 2000 by Stephen Flaherty and Lynn Ahrens, based on the colorful literary works of Dr. Seuss. Stories such as Horton Hears a Who!, The Cat in the Hat, and The Butter Battle Book can be seen throughout the show.
Ali Lewis, who played The Cat in the Hat, stole the show with her lively and dynamic performance. Not only was she a remarkable singer, Lewis excelled in her vocal manipulation and ad-libbing, creating many distinct accents ranging from an Australian news reporter to a crazy doctor and an auctioneer. She also engaged with the audience with her own improvised lines that were witty as well as humorous. The Cat in the Hat and Jojo, played by Dora Gehrum, had apparent chemistry while onstage. Both of the incredibly talented actresses used concise choices in their own physicality to create a hilarious comedic duo that was very entertaining to watch.
Two prominent vocalists in this show were Lydia Wright and Olivia Duker, who portrayed Gertrude McFuzz and General Genghis Kahn Schmitz. Wright's clear warm tone in "Notice Me, Horton" was paired with a stunning vibrato that allowed her voice to sound elegant and mature. Olivia Duker's voice in "The Military" was filled with powerful characterization that brought the General to life. On top of her strong vocals, Duker maintained confident facial expressions and composure that added another layer of depth to her performance,
The crew at Mercy McAuley helped to bring the world of Dr. Seuss to the stage. The costume crew, led by Adelaide Lindner and Sabrina Warren, set the scene of this show with costumes inspired by the styles of dress spanning the 20th century. Costumes for characters such as Gertrude McFuzz (Lydia Wright) and Mayzie LaBird (Abby Sewell) were inspired by the 1950s, while the Sour Kangaroo's (Lalah West) was taken from the 1970s. Additionally, the set crew worked extremely hard for this production. Led by EJ Burke, Nikolas Essen, and Grace Schreyer; they constructed a thrust, extending from the permanent stage, which allowed for the use of space closer to the audience.
The student choreographers, Mikey Disbennett and Rachel Heinz, created inventive dance numbers that utilized the entire stage and large cast. With sharp and well rehearsed combinations, all the numbers excelled in showing off the skilled dancers on stage.
Consistent with the spectacle that Seussical is, the publicity crew, led by Katie Frazee, went above and beyond to advertise this show. They created a number of bright and colorful posters, displaying the characters and cast members, as well as a polished promotional video featuring the rehearsals that went into the production.
Overall, this was an enjoyable and high-spirited show, with a vibrant cast and hard working crew, that made a wonderful world full of amusement, color, and Seuss.
The Bird Girls (Elizabeth Ernst, Sofia Schaffer, Rachel Heinz) tell the story of Horton’s adventures as he sits on an egg, in a nest, in a tree.
Review by Kendall Davis, William Mason High School Critic Team
Only in Mercy McAuley High School's production of Seussical: the Musical can you find a elephant in a tree, a lovestruck bird, and a host of other whimsical creatures.
Dr. Seuss's beloved children's stories are the basis for Seussical, with most of the plot's inspiration drawing from Horton Hears a Who, Horton Lays an Egg, and Gertrude McFuzz from Yertle the Turtle and Other Stories. Seussical is a zany mash-up of these characters' stories into one. The show is led by the Cat in the Hat (simply called The Cat in the world of Seussical), as she invites an ordinary boy into the story, where he becomes JoJo, the Who son of Mr. and Mrs. Mayor. In the jungle of Nool, Horton the Elephant finds a clover that contains the Who's home. To save the Whos from being destroyed by the other inhabitants of the jungle, Horton and his smitten companion, Gertrude McFuzz, must get the other animals to believe in the Whos.
Ali Lewis' mischievous antics as The Cat held the numerous plotlines of the show together cohesively. Her bold improvised interactions with the audience were engaging and hilarious, especially as she worked around unexpected exclamations from younger audience members. Joining The Cat, Dora Gehrum believably encompassed the youthful energy required to deliver the childlike wonder of Boy/JoJo. A notable moment for Gehrum was singing stunning harmonies with Madalyn Emery (Horton the Elephant) in "Alone in the Universe." In the jungle of Nool, Emery and Lydia Wright harmonized beautifully in both singing and characterization, as Horton the Elephant and Gertrude McFuzz respectively. Emery impressively had to sing the songs up an octave, as a female Horton, and Wright's vocals are quite reminiscent of the original Broadway cast recording.
Contrary to Horton and Gertrude, Abby Sewell amusingly portrayed Mayzie LaBird's melodramatic shenanigans. She fearlessly took on the daring role. Also antagonizing the heroes, Olivia Duker embodied the nature of the war-crazy General Genghis Kahn Schmitz with comedic success. In JoJo's world, the Who ensemble was charmingly quirky and Seuss-esque.
As for the technical aspect, the brilliant costume design, led by Adelaide Lindner and Sabrina Warren, practically lit up the stage with various decade-inspired apparel. Notably, the birds of the show all had 50s-inspired costumes, from the showgirl bathing suit for Mayzie to the housewife dress for Gertrude. These costumes looked amazing against the bright book-themed set. Also outstanding was the production's publicity. This team, led by Katie Frazee, created a publicity video with clips from the show to be posted on social media. They also created other forms of social media content for Instagram and TikTok, which were both educational and funny. The most successful TikTok post reached a whopping total of 70,000 views!
With all the determination of Horton, the bravery of Gertrude, and the whimsy of The Cat, Mercy McAuley High School delivered a heartwarming tale that was in the true spirit of Seuss.
Gertrude (Lydia Wright) defends her neighbor Horton in the Jungle of Nool.
Review by Ella Skolnicki, Loveland High School Critic Team
An elephant and a little boy take the stage as two unlikely heroes bound together in Mercy McAuley's production of Seussical on their mission to show the power of every voice.
Seussical follows a cast of Dr. Seuss characters in intertwining storylines as they attempt to save the Whos and free Horton the Elephant from captivity. Written for the stage by Lynn Ahrens and Stephen Flaherty, the story shows the importance of friendship as a unifying force in a broken world.
Mercy McAuley brought life to Dr. Seuss characters that have only been seen on a page previously through strong character choices, elaborate set pieces, and colorful costumes.
Ali Lewis brought energy to The Cat in the Hat as she bounced around the stage and created interesting accents throughout the show. From the pre-show announcement to the final button on bows, Lewis was radiant. Her ability to interact with many different props and use them all effectively was impressive, but her improv bits that were sprinkled throughout the performance were show-stopping. Lewis' over the top movements and strong vocal talent in songs such as "How Lucky You Are" brought a new dimension to a beloved character.
Dora Gehrum's Jojo was a delightful presence on the stage. Gehrum's facial expressions brought life into Jojo as he navigated being thrust into the story. "It's Possible" was such an energizing number as Gehrum's voice was tremendous. She managed to act with her whole body, making every motion count. Abby Sewell, Mayzie LaBird, pulled off a stand-out performance with her vocal talent in "Amazing Mayzie."
The set crew created an impressive scenic design for the show. The concept of using books to create the set was creative and grounded the audience in the fact that Seussical is based off of Dr. Seuss books. Grace Schreyer hand painted wood panels to look like book spines and these pieces were beautiful. The costumes crew, led by Isabella Cassaro, Adelaide Lindner, and Sabrina Warren, designed every costume and followed the process through until the final products were ready. The result was a colorful stage filled with unique choices for every character, helping to showcase each one's personality.
Mercy McAuley proved that every voice can be heard through the creativity and energy the entire cast and crew brought to Seussical.
The Whos in Mercy McAuley’s production of SEUSSICAL introduce us to Who… the tiniest planet in the sky!
Excerpts From Other Top Reviews
"Another notable performance is that of Lydia Wright, who played the loveable role of Gertrude McFuzz. Lydia had a mixture of comedy and quirkiness throughout the show. Lydia also sang beautifully through the show, but most specifically in her song, "Amazing Gertrude," where she embodied the characteristics of Gertrude perfectly, as well as having strong, beautiful vocals. Along with Lydia, Abby Sewell, who played Mayzie LaBird, was also able to embody her character, and she sang with strong vocals throughout the entire show. Abby gave the perfect mixture of sass and self-absorbedness to make her performance as Mayzie a memorable and powerful interpretation."
-Hope Schablein, Taylor High School Critic Team
"Additionally, Madalyn Emery's portrayal of Horton the Elephant showing the true care of the character was very heartwarming. Emery's powerful voice rang clear making sure everyone knew no matter the size or look of someone, that they are a person too. Their friendship with JoJo, played by Dora Gehrum, showcased a genuine connection between them, as shown when the voices of Emery and Gehrum blended beautifully together in their rendition of 'Alone in the Universe' in a touching moment that showed the importance of connection in life."
Lizzy Rebber, Walnut Hills High School Critic Team
"Creative and artful costumes led by Adelaide Lindner and Sabrina Warren tied into the bigger plot of the show. Like for example, the bread headbands that tied back into the musical number "The Military." All the Whos wore green and pink to keep the audience knowledgeable of what was going on and helped differentiate the characters. The addition of the extra feathers hidden in Gertrude's (Lydia Wright) dress and the way her tail kept on getting longer and longer after every scene were a clever addition. JoJo (Dora Gehrum) was the only one wearing green in the army which highlighted her individuality even if she was being forced to conform."
-Brooke Spurlock, William Mason High School
"The props crew, headed by Claire Erion, did a remarkable job of adding humor to the show through the props. A distinct example of this is the tiny piano that was featured in How Lucky You Are." This piano got a laugh from the audience and was not the only example of the props making people laugh. Overall, the crew was incredibly talented and did so much to enhance the show."
-Anya Sperber, Saint Ursula Academy Critic Team
"The hair and makeup team consisted of Abby Campbell, Rachel Heinz , and Elaina Ward gave it their all to have the hair match the personalities of each character like the Wickershams having grunge style hair and Sour Kangaroo having a huge afro to match her big personality."
-Logan Duerk, Taylor High School Critic Team
"General Genghis Kahn Schmit, playezd by Olivia Duker, kept the audience in stitches with impressive use of facials and dialect. The ensemble of Jungle Citizens, along with the Wickersham Brothers (Grace Schreyer, Elaina Ward, and Gus Wissemeier), gave stand-out performances in large ensemble dance numbers, tackling difficult choreography with ease."
-Katie Berich, Walnut Hills High School
"Overall, Mercy McAuley's production of Seussical was lively, bright, and fun, and exemplified the power of 'the thinks we can think.'"
-Tricia Halili-Felse, Loveland High School Critic Team