In recent years, you would be hard pressed to find a musical not sold out completely. However, Seussical only sold out the Saturday of the final show, much slower than some of the past shows. Perhaps the slow sell out and ticket sale, compared to that of past shows, reflects the entire musical this year.
For all intents and purposes, Seussical was fine. In full disclosure, I have seen the show three times, so my own perspective isn’t as fresh as many seeing the show for the first time. Still, the sets were very well done, and the costumes were relatively good. Mr. and Mrs. Mayor’s costumes, in particular, were well done; Mayzie La Bird’s costume, made by Angie Tozzi for her character, was also very well done.
The makeup, though rather frightening for characters like The Grinch and the Sour Kangaroo, played by siblings Quinn and Tess Theobald respectively, was effective in demonstrating the wacky vibe of Seuss.
The use of black body suits and white, glow in the dark gloves, was also a wonderful aesthetic choice. The scene was rather striking, and the lighting crew deserves a Gene Kelly nod for their hard work.
The leads were also very talented and imbued their roles with vibrancy. Jenny Guest was mischievous and lovable as the Cat in the Hat. Billy Molinari was delightfully self-deprecating and, after last year spent playing a sidekick in Man of La Mancha, proved he could handle being center stage. His substantial roles in all musicals, from his freshman to senior year, display his dedication to theater.
Most surprising of all were the performances given by middle schoolers Allison Joyce and Tess Theobald. Joyce, a participant in theater programs outside of school, showed off her chops as a potential lead. Theobald, however, gave the best performance of all. Her hip- swinging, eye-rolling, genuinely sassy Sour Kangaroo made Theobald’s performance the breakout of the show.
Despite the best effort of the cast, crew and supervisors, no one can change the fact that Seussical is not an enjoyable show. The plot line is random and illogical, with many holes. For example, JoJo’s parents negate “odd thinks” but they do not question sending their only child away due to the advice of a cat. The songs are catchy, but not like “Call Me Maybe” catchy. Instead, they can easily shift to annoying – really, really, annoying.
In lieu of past shows like Sweeney Todd, Phantom of the Opera, and Man of La Mancha, the light comedy presented this year felt unimportant and, comparatively, fluffy. The loss of vocal powerhouses such as Nathan Pool, Brooke Tate, Emma Baker and Jessica Keast hit Avonworth’s theater program hard. Yet, with the talent remaining and, in Tess Theobald’s case growing, Seussical was simply not the show to get this next generation of Avonworth theatre continuing to sustain the award-winning reputation as a great theater program.