Review: Animated stories on stage at Cooper High

The curtain opened to a timeless tale of loyalty and imagination. Animated and singing animals danced across the stage and led a chase on a frenzied mission to steal the clover containing the Whos’ speck of dust from Horton in Cooper High School’s production of “Seussical.”

Dr. Seuss’ beloved books were brought to life in this masterful collaboration by Lynn Ahrens and Stephen Flaherty. In two intertwining stories, Horton begins a journey to fight valiantly for the unseen Whos against his unbelieving fellow town members. Along the journey, Horton’s neighbor, Gertrude McFuzz (Delaney Holt), falls in love with Horton, and desperately tries to gain his attention through unsuccessful methods. Meanwhile, in Whoville, Jojo (Shane Beers) struggles with his parents, Mr. and Mrs. Mayor, due to the fact they believe he “thinks too many thinks.”

Cast members of the show moved well around each other to the choreography as they sang and danced. Matthew Bross enlightened Horton with a sense of the weight of the journey, as he tackled the judgment of others. Jojo and the Cat in the Hat (Austin Kevin Moore) had great connections and comical moments as the Cat guided Jojo in his journey. Holt gave Gertrude a lively and energetic attitude, especially in her solo, “All for You.”

Mrs. Mayor had good clear vocals that harmonized well with the other singers. Lighthall and Nathan Millson portrayed a definite manner of sadness as they received “A Message from the Front.” The ensemble members did a nice job reacting to main events while the main characters were the focus of attention. The Wickersham group provided lively comedy.

The cast and crew did an admirable job dealing with the difficult aspects of the show. Ensemble members projected despite their lack of microphones. There were a number of body microphone issues that briefly interrupted the flow of the numbers; however, the cast and crew were able to recover quickly each time. Energy started low with the cast, but steadily grew as the show went on. At times some of the characters’ liveliness dropped noticeably. Nevertheless, the energy of other cast members compensated nicely for them. Overall, there was a sense of unity that provided points for characters to highlight themselves against the rest of the ensemble.

A vibrant set cleverly separated the worlds of the Whos and the townspeople. The bottom half was filled with cartoon trees, while the top half represented the town of Whoville, as well as the Mayor’s house. Crew members did a seamless job of adding and removing moveable pieces to the set. Throughout the play the lighting was a strong point, reflecting the moods and modes of Jojo’s imagination with different colors. The spotlights adequately made up for the lack of lighting at the top of the set. Hair and makeup also added further characteristics to the cast.

As the curtain closed to the strains of “Oh, The Thinks You Can Think!,” the cast and crew of Cooper High School left behind the pleasant memory of the colorful reenactment of Dr. Seuss’ whimsical storybooks.

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