Spirit of Seuss
SeussicalJr was a colourful and quirky blast of fun for all ages.
Swas a fun, dazzling slice of Dr Seussical’s most famous characters, brought to life by a cast of up and coming young talents.
The production, which finished its run at the PJ Live Arts Theatre in Petaling Jaya in Selangor last weekend, may have been the work of students – graduates of theatre personality Tiara Jacquelina’s Enfiniti Academy – but the performance delivered by some of the show’s key characters had the energy, gusto and charisma befitting of professionals.
As an acclaimed Broadway musical featuring all your favourite characters from celebrated childrens author Dr Seuss (aka Theodor Seuss Geisel), Seussical Jr lived up to its billing.
On stage, Hani Karmila Mohsin Effendi did a wonderful job as the Cat in the Hat. Always in tune. She sang her way beautifully though the narration of the story, while an inspiring Jojo played with infectious and irrepressible smiles by one Badrish Isdin Bahadir was a real charmer.
In the story, Jojo is a young Who, a race of microscopic fuzzy-blue haired people who live on Whoville, the tiniest planet in the universe.
His father is the town Mayor, however him and his wife (played by brother-sister duo Stefan and Sophia Othman-Anserson) are unhappy with their son, and tell him to stop thinking too many “thinks”.
Jojo feels isolated, that is until he finds a friend in Horton the Elephant, a big lumbering softie from the Jungle of Nool, who upon discovering the tiny planet, (which he initially mistakes for a tiny speck of dust on a clover leaf), vows to protect it.
Played by Caleb Kishan Savari, Horton made a likeable lead for the show, with a voice that was deep and voluminous, yet expressive enough to portray his gentle nature.
The other animals, which included an ensemble of Kangaroos (one blues-belting Caitlyn Vidya Savari, accompanied by the adorable baby Kangaroo, Maelin Ambiana Kilpatrick), cheeky Monkeys, and flamboyant birds, cast ridicule on Horton for talking to a clover leaf. However, he stood resolute in his mission.
Other standouts from the cast were the glamorous but irresponsible bird Mayzie, played brilliantly by Amelia Thripura Henderson.
Mayzie the bird was one of my favourite characters. Meanwhile, Gertrude McFuzz (Badrika Baluch Bahadur) did an amazing job playing this determined little bird with the plainest tail feather that ever was. Her highpitched squeaks and comical self consciousness made her a lovable underdog.
As much as we were thrilled, there were some hiccups with the production. A number of solo lines from the chorus were inaudible, presumably due to mic problems, whilst at times it was hard to make out the words when the full ensemble was singing.
And from the top gallery, the stage looked slightly crowded during the big scenes. But there were plenty of great moments – in particular the bath tub scene where a shoal of glow-in the-dark fish swam in formation around the stage whilst Jojo imagined he was under the sea. That was positively magical. The best bits were the solo performances, scenes towards the second half of the show by Gertude McFuzz and Mayzie, which really stood out. The duets with Jojo and Cat in the Hat and Jojo and Horton also managed to hit some real heart strings. All in all, this was a good 75 minutes of great and inspiring fun.
Gertrude McFuzz (Badrika Baluch Bahadur) and Mayzie (Amelia Thripura Henderson) are as different as two birds can be in SeussicalJr.