Review by Helena Hennessy, Mercy McAuley High School Critic Team
As The Cat in The Hat , an eccentric bunch, and bursts of color fill the stage, Ursuline Academy's production of Seussical: The Musical assures us that we are never truly "Alone in The Universe."
With its story being derived from a multitude of Dr. Seuss' renowned works, Seussical proudly owns it's silly and light-hearted nature. From its Broadway debut in 2000, this show has become a fun-for-the-whole-family classic among many community and high school theater programs. Through its cheery songs and dance numbers, multidimensional personalities, and vivid set design which transports attendees from Whoville to Kalamazoo, Seussical makes itself known as an intricate yet dazzling musical for the ages.
Ursuline Academy's rendition of this show impressively balanced rhyming dialogue, complex choreography, and a varying setlist. Quick scene changes and their detailed oriented backdrops and costume design led to a multifaceted and lively production.
Grace Hoffman portrayed every comedic remark and compassionate intention of The Cat in The Hat with utmost energy and personality. From her jazzy opening number "Oh, The Thinks You Can Think!" which illustrates every loud commotion and joyous emotion Seussical is set to soon pursue, to the vulnerable moments of advice shared with Jojo (Grace Rudie), Hoffman showcased utmost versatility throughout her performance. Rudie approached the role of Jojo with childlike wonder and curiosity but left us with a depiction of a young boy who's gone through great turmoil, being ripped from the only world he had ever known for simply possessing a grand imagination, but nonetheless survived through his everlasting hope. This duo's onstage chemistry is palpable, as their energetic personas bounce off one another, and their heartfelt interactions radiate sincerity.
An earnest rendition of Horton the Elephant from Aric Schauer exhibited his pure motives and unrelenting efforts in his quest to save the Whos. His raw vocals within "Horton Hears a Who"evoke emotion and sympathy, while his interactions with Gertrude McFuzz (Anna Grace Hull) spark inklings of tenderness within every scene they share. With every quirky trait and self-deprecating crack, Hull paints Gertrude McFuzz to be the laughingstock of her flock, however, she flourishes, and recognizes herself to be the lovable bird of which she always was. Within the sweet and whimsical melody of "Notice Me, Horton" Hull's infatuated expressions introduce Gertrude's undying love for Horton, while the ballad "All for You" takes a turn and prompts the feelings of desperation Gertrude's concealed all along, which Hull beautifully communicates through her cathartic and powerful belting.
The world of Seuss calls for bright hues and collaborations of imaginations from all crew aspects. Vibrant and fantastical costume designs from Avery Rudell and Ellie Allaire consisted of varying colors, each being unique to certain characters, representing their identities and internal feelings. The elaborate set, with design elements from Megan Young and and Wren Kitchings, presented the gleeful tone of the production; it stood out even during moments of desolation. With live music from a wonderfully talented orchestra, each song was brought to life, and the theater overflowed with encapsulating harmonies.
Every exuberant moment and bold detail led Ursuline Academy to this extraordinarily vibrant production. It transported one into a world of endless creativity and celebrated imagination and showed us "How Lucky [We] Are" to have the ability to think any think.
Review by Wolf Singer, Walnut Hills High School Critic Team
Seussical at Ursuline Academy took all of the charm and life that the show is already known for and turned it up to eleven. Whether it be the wacky rhyming lines or the colorful characters we all know and love, Ursuline Academy's production brought a youthful light to the words and stories of Dr. Seuss.
Seussical's story is an amalgamation of many of Dr. Seuss' beloved stories including, but not limited to, Horton Hears a Who, Miss Gertrude McFuzz, and How the Grinch Stole Christmas! The story follows Horton the Elephant as he discovers and tries to protect a little world on a spec known as Who-ville. Along the way, Horton faces opposition from not only many of the characters, but the world around him as well. Down in Who-ville, we follow the story of a tiny Who named Jojo. Jojo primarily interacts with the Cat in the Hat who appears to be somewhat a figment of Jojo's imagination. The Cat in the Hat ends up getting Jojo in quite a bit of trouble, but ultimately Jojo finds that he has much bigger fish to fry.
Grace Rudie, portraying Jojo, presented such a satisfying air of childhood wonder from the very moment the lights came up. Rudie did a fantastic job of developing Jojo while still holding true to the youth which defines the character and makes him relatable. In Addition, Aric Schauer, portraying Horton, played to Horton's empathetic and selfless nature perfectly while still being hilarious and lighthearted. The work of these two along with that of the entire cast made for a very cohesive and high-energy experience.
The costumes of Ellie Allaire and Avery Rudell as a whole magnified the performance of the cast. The costume of Gertrude, portrayed by Anna Grace Hull, was particularly clever in that it was a cool color while all of her bird counterparts had warm-colored costumes; allowing her to be easily recognizable. Another eye-catching tech element was that of the props, designed by Wren Kitchings. Whether it be the pink umbrella on which Who-ville sat, or the purple egg from which the winged baby elephant would later be hatched, Kitchings' props fit into place perfectly despite the bizarre context of the items.
Ursuline's production of Seussical was an absolute joy to experience. The cast and crew of the production worked as a cohesive whole and put on an incredible show.
Review by Katie Berich, Walnut Hills High School Critic Team
The smallest of the small and the tallest of the tall packed the house for Seussical at Ursuline Academy– and it did not disappoint. Engaging the audience start to finish with flashy tech and powerful acting, Ursuline's Seussical emphasized the human qualities of the jungle's wildest animals.
Combining multiple works of beloved children's author Dr. Seuss, Seussical follows Horton The Elephant on his mission to protect the inhabitants of a planet no larger than a speck of dust: Whoville. He perseveres through relentless teasing, forming a connection with a young Who named Jojo. Horton later loses his speck of dust and is left unable to search for it when Mayzie La Bird requests that he watch over her egg. Gertrude McFuzz comes to the rescue, reuniting Horton with Whoville and helping him care for Mayzie's egg.
Clad in tap shoes, Grace Hoffman gave a lively portrayal of the Cat In The Hat. Hoffman's vibrant stage presence and comedic timing were highlights of the show. Josie Lickliter gave a stand-out performance as Mayzie La Bird, wowing the audience with impressive vocals in show-stopping number "Amazing Mayzie."
In addition to larger-than-life characters, Seussical offers authenticity and meaningful moments. Grace Rudieas Jojo and Aric Schauer as Horton The Elephant share heartfelt sentiments of longing for a better reality in "Solla Sollew."
Seussical's technical elements were astounding. Lighting design by Sarah Kate Graber, Sarah Kuhr, and crew utilized gobos to communicate setting and featured skillful operation of spotlights, creating more intimate scenes. Avery Rudell and Ellie Allaire's costumes were eye-catching and made ensembles easily identifiable–the Whos, for example, were dressed in only black and white. Before entering the theater, audience members were immersed in the world of Seuss by intricate lobby decor crafted by Marketing and Publicity, led by Kylie Kruckerberg and Justine Starke.
Student choreographers Anna Grace Hull, Josie Lickliter, Caroline McKernan, and Grace Rudie tackled this dance-heavy show with ease, curating diverse choreography to fit the cast's abilities by using simpler, lyric-based movement in larger numbers and more refined, complex dance with smaller ensembles.
The hard work of cast, crew, and production team on Seussical was evident in their performance. You're lucky to be in the theater when Ursuline's Seussical takes the stage!
Excepts From Other Top Reviews
"In contrast to Gertrude's meek personality, Josie Lickliter expertly played Mayzie's hilarious over-the-top charm with standout vocals. Also outstanding were Elizabeth Benton's jazzy vocal talents as Sour Kangaroo. Additionally, Mr. and Mrs. Mayor, played by Timothy Gerwe and Maggie Farwig respectively, exemplified the Whos' uptight personalities in a comedic manner."
-Kendall Davis, William Mason High School Critic Team
"The costume and set designers rose to the challenge of such a high-energy show. Set designers Megan Young, Wren Kitchings, and their crew created a mobile set that could accommodate the fantastical nature of the show while moving the set in only a day before opening, exceeding expectations given their constraints with rotating backdrops and a moving tree for Horton. Costumers Ellie Alliare and Avery Rudell brought all the vibrancy and vitality into their costumes that this show demands, and more, with Bird Girl 60's showgirls, Wickersham greasers, and Gertrude's ever-changing tail. The color palettes of each ensemble were masterfully picked and showcased each of the groups' personalities."
-Emma Dalton, Walnut Hills High School Critic Team
"Some of the most outstanding aspects of the show were the costumes. Each character had a thoughtful costume, with specific colors and patterns to represent each ensemble. The set had a lovely array of scenery for each different location, and were smoothly shifted throughout, which can be attributed to crew heads Wren Kitchings and Megan Young. The stage management duo, Katelyn Kruckeberg and Campbell Center , was very evidently on top of their game, as all of the technical facets of the show were tight and together."
-Katie Buschle, Highlands High School Critic Team
"Anna Grace Hull gave her all to her performance as Gertrude McFuzz. The character was absolutely hilarious to watch, but to see her lovingly gush about Horton while he was oblivious was heartbreaking. Hull also gave a stunning vocal performance in songs such as 'Notice Me Horton' and 'All for You,' having a strong yet effortless belt."
Norah Shadwell, Highlands High School Critic Team
"One of the most influential characters in the show would be Jojo, played by Grace Rudie. Her outstanding performance brought a youthful energy to the stage, which is a key characteristic in his books. Similarly, The Cat in the Hat was another major role in this production. Played by Grace Hoffman, The Cat in the Hat reflected the inquisitive energy that the character is known for. Both were energetic, enthusiastic, and creative throughout the show."
-Ella Riva, William Mason High School Critic Team
"With the pure amount of choreography, technical wizardry, and phenomenal vocals, it's clear that both the cast and crew of this show put in mounds of effort. With the choreographers working from dusk til dawn, the innovative mobility of the set, and some visionary props, its clear that all technical aspects were taken into account for. As for the cast, they simply swept the audience off their feet with musical numbers beyond compare and acting expertise."
-Charlotte Weghorst, Highlands High School Critic Team
"All in all, Ursuline Academy showcased their ability to capture storybook characters and have fun while also working hard. Their clever tech elements and vibrant, energetic characters really made for an enjoyable show. "
-Adelaide Sheets, Campbell County High School Critic Team