ALHAMBRA THEATRE & DINING REVIEW “SEUSSICAL THE MUSICAL”
Jacksonville’s Alhambra Theatre opened its annual summer treat on June 24, 2015 with “Seussical The Musical,” a bright imaginative musical comedy based on the works of Dr. Seuss by Lynn Ahrens, Stephen Flaherty, and Eric Idle. The show will run through August 2 at 12000 Beach Boulevard. Call 904-641-1212 or visit alhambrajax.com for reservations.
The production is two hours of magic, filled with one entertaining song after another as well as all those wonderful Seuss characters who come alive on the stage. The Cat in the Hat (Benjamin Smith) opens the show in a delightfully daffy comic performance, and we are introduced to many unique people and animals. A major character is Horton the Elephant, played by Broadway actor Kevin Covert, who now makes his home in Jacksonville. Mr. Covert was able to rely on his energy and many charms to make Horton fantastic, funny, and devoted.
We also meet the microscopic Mr. Mayor (Jereme Raickett) and Mrs. Mayor (Rachel Anton), and their son Jojo, played by fourteen-year-old Douglas Anderson student Oliver Rumney displaying his marvelous singing voice in his professional debut.
The frivolous Mazie La Bird (Zoe Kassay) lays an egg and sweet-talks Horton into sitting on it while she runs off to enjoy herself in Palm Beach. Horton is tormented by Wickersham monkeys as well as Sour Kangaroo (Linzy Kennedy) and Horton is later judged by Yertle the Turtle. Horton’s only real friends are Jojo and Gertrude McFuzz (Lindsay Sutton), a lovesick bird.
There are many additional characters, like the Circus Animals and the Grinch (Austin Palmer), one of the most popular creatures. Be prepared, the Grinch has been known to appear in the lobby and pose for photos after the show; a real treat for many youngsters.
This fast-paced show has many scenes, and we are sure you will have favorites. We especially enjoyed Jojo’s sojourn in military school, which is headed by the zany General Gengus Khan Schmitz (Matthew J. Campbell). And the underwater scene with the day-glo swimming fish was a delightful visual fantasy.
While the marvelous featured actors are listed along with the names of their characters, the members of the ensemble make a bold impression in varied roles as they fill the stage with dancing and singing. The adult ensemble includes Shawna Walker, Olivia Chernyshev, Caitlin Doak, Rachel Romo, David Tanciar, Cornelius Davis, and Michael Lomeka.
The five members of the children’s ensemble are all in school, with four of them attending Douglas Anderson School of the Arts. They include Taylor Halsema, Abby Davey, Alexander Aponte, Kane Carter, and Avery Sedlacek.
Thanks to the Costume Crew (Camala Pitts and Dorinda Quiles) for your eye-popping million kilowatt costumes. The set design by Ian Black, with an assist by Technical Director/Designer David Dionne, is a show unto itself and worth the price of admission.
Jason Nettle is making his directorial debut at the Alhambra; he has been the Alhambra’s resident stage manager for the past two years, and has also appeared on-stage, delighting audiences with his excellent performance last year as Lord Farquaad in the Alhambra’s “Shrek, the Musical.” His new role as director was assigned by Tod Booth, the Executive Producer. He has seized the opportunity and molded this delightful and complex show into a flawless production with sure and solid staging down to the last detail. He also cast the show and has chosen actors with voices that fill the songs with vibrant warmth.
“Seussical” is a show for the entire family, as fascinating for adults as for children. The Alhambra’s show begins in the lobby, with special hats available to borrow for photo opportunities, and a mini-store with books and merchandise available for purchase, and walls filled with large prints of illustrations by Dr. Seuss. Of note: Chef DeJuan Roy has also created a special kids menu with food that appeals to the younger set. Don’t miss this splendid show, which brings the beloved fantasy world of Dr. Seuss to life.