This is a very lively musical, based on the much loved Dr. Seuss stories, that premièred in 2000. It has been popular ever since, and is often performed. The overarching story is taken from the books, Horton Hears a Who, and Horton Hatches the Egg, but there are a host of other stories that sneak in as well. The Cat in the Hat is the narrator and master of ceremonies. There are plenty of other familiar characters who turn up from time to time. When the Whos celebrate Christmas, the Grinch is on hand to help out, and General Genghis Khan Schmitz leads his troop of cadets, a party of small boys, off to war. The entire company even get to sing about Green Eggs and Ham.
This production features a large group of young people whose ages range from six to twenty-one, but do not think for one moment that it is kids’ stuff. Five minutes in and you’ll swear that this is a professional show. Theodor Seuss Geisel, who wrote 46 children’s books, would have been extremely happy with how these young folk presented his tales.
First time Director, Buddy Dawson, Musical Director, Esther Riggs, and Choreographer, Petra Szabo have done a remarkable job in casting this production and bringing it to fruition as a fast-paced, stylish, and fun production. The entire cast, all 120 of them, are full of enthusiasm and energy, giving it everything they have, with never a dull moment. This is a real all singing all dancing show, with some marvellous vocal harmonies, and movement created to suit each of the various characters and groups, yet still blending together as a coherent whole. A pleasure to hear was the excellent orchestra, spot on from start to finish.
Kate Harford’s costumes were a riot of colour, with a nice touch of quirkiness, and Craig Williams’s multi level set made everybody easy to see and offered a great working space for the performers. Steve Tilling’s lighting was well designed and executed, and the projections onto three panels at the rear were cleverly though out.
There are two sets of principals and at this performance the Cat in the Hat was played by Samuel Williams, capturing the character perfectly in a sparking performance. Mark Stefanoff could not have been better as Horton the Elephant, giving a beautifully sensitive and empathetic rendition of the character. Talia Fantone, as Gertrude, from The One Feather Tail of Miss Gertrude McFuzz, is superb in the role, doing everything that she can to make Horton notice her. She is his next door neighbour, and secretly in love with him.
She takes the advice of the self-centred Maizie La Bird, who has plenty of plumage, only to regret it later. Naomi Belet give a strong performance as Maizie, with her entourage, what is now referred to in America as her posse, following her around, commenting on the action like a Greek chorus. While Georgia Bolton, as the Sour Kangaroo, belts out her songs in a great gospel style, Ruby Parcell, as her baby, charms everybody with her dancing and ‘sassy’ attitude.
Benji Riggs plays General Schmitz, who appears in I Had Trouble Getting to Solla Sollew, who goes to battle those who like to eat their bread with the butter side down, characters from The Butter Battle Book. Riggs presents a blustery Colonel Blimp character, with overtones of John Cleese in his Ministry of Funny Walks sketch, injecting plenty of laughs into the production. Rosa Lavia and Madee Arrizza are a delight as Thing 1 and Thing 2.
There is so much more that could be said about all of the principals and the whole cast, but unfortunately space and time do not permit. Suffice to say that they are universally sensational.
With only two performances left today, waste no time at all in rounding up the whole family and racing in to see this top quality production, before the remaining tickets are gone. Even if you have nobody to take, go alone. We seldom see performances this good.
Reviewed by Barry Lenny, Arts Editor, Glam Adelaide.
Venue: ARTS Theatre, Angas Street, Adelaide
Season: 2pm and 7pm Saturday 26th January 2013
Duration: 2hrs plus 20min interval
Tickets: Adults $30.children $25
Bookings: BASS tickets are all sold, but tickets are still available at the box office until sold out.