I attended a preview performance of Naugatuck Teen Theater's Seussical the Musical at St. Michael's Parish Hall. Many children were in the audience because it had been offered to some PTOs as a fundraiser.
In his program notes, the director Dan Checovetes notes that the cast has "worked extremely hard to go outside of their comfort zone to create a world where an elephant can hatch the egg of a bird, where people too tiny to see end up living on a clover, and where a young child with an overactive imagination can save her entire universe." That pretty much sums up the action of the show and the hard work of the cast is evident in this cohesive and impressive production. This two-act musical by Lynn Ahrens and Stephen Flaherty is fully loaded with catchy songs (and a only a few reprises) but the cast rose to the challenge. When the entire ensemble sang together, it was an impressive choir.
The director made certain that the cast members nailed their moves. A.J. Bunel and his band of six great musician (including Meric Martin on guitar) sat at the back of the stage and sounded great. The set was designed by the Stage Manager Daniel Wagoner and was whimsical yet functional. Jennifer Bunger did a really impressive job with the choreography; the tap dancing was an excellent addition. And the costumes...all I can say is that Agnes Dann outdid herself on this one. One character was as adorable as the next, right down to the members of the ensemble; they were colorful, fanciful and just perfect.
The large number of teens involved in NTT is impressive. Most of them attend Naugatuck High School or the Waterbury Arts Magnet (WAMS) and some of them are only freshman or younger. However, all of them appeared to be seasoned professionals. They are too numerous to mention by name; suffice it to say that every young man and young lady did a wonderful job with their fun role. The lead roles of "The Cat in the Hat" and "Mayzie" were double cast. Bailey Cummings ("Ned" in Writer's Cramp at the Phoenix Stage) was the quintessential mischievous Cat at this preview performance in a crazy wig and a black fur suit. In other performances, K'Ehleyr Smith will cover the role. The wonderful Aimee Toms played the pushy "Mayzie" to perfection in an impressive headdress. Kimberly O'Brien shares this role. Young Sarai Genua was a convincing "Jojo" with a great voice. The always impressive Erica Blasko was just plain adorable as "Gertrude the bird" with tail issues; her lilting voice and pluck (no pun intended) were spot on. Alex Hernandez has amazing voice and managed to deal with a puppet hand on her "Sour Kangaroo" costume.
Connor Dunn and Stephanie Hensley played "Mr. and Mrs. Mayor" straight and the "Bird Girls" played by Alexa Campagna, Jussonjah Duby and Savannah Sprague were the perfect back up singers in feathers. The "Wickersham Brothers" in brown leather pants were a joy to watch when played by James Bell and Jason Begin ( at the PSC and at NTT.) Zach Carter was loud, brash and humorous as "General Ghengus Kahn Schmidt." "Yertle, the Turtle" was well-played by the petite Angie Taccariello and Tyler Corbett was the infamous "Grinch." The lead role of "Horton the Elephant" was played by Dan Dressel ( and the son of The Music Man's Lucia Dressel.) This was his first show on the NTT stage and he was wonderful; he has an excellent voice and the acting chops required for the role.
Seussical is a fun show for children of all ages and I loved this production. I have put out an electronic call for photos of the cast in costume and will post them if I can get any. The show will be presented on:
May 4, 5, 11, and 12, 2012 at 8 p.m.
May 6 and 13, 2012 at 2 p.m. .