Review: Seussical the Musical

King’s Hall, Ilkley

Wednesday 7th until Saturday 10th March

ILKLEY Amateur Operatic Society’s colourful, high octane production of Seussical, directed by Mark Allan, transports us to the whimsical world of the stories of Dr.Seuss where anything is possible. Kind hearted Horton the Elephant discovers a town of small people known as ‘the Whos’ floating on a speck of dust. Horton swears to protect them from danger and he gently places their microscopic world on a clover. Loretta Marklew’s Sour Kangaroo and all the other Jungle creatures - with the exception of Catherine Gregory’s feathered song bird Gertrude Mcfuzz - do not believe that ‘Whoville’ exists. Horton has to protect the minute community. At the same time he is conned into incubating an egg belonging to Chloe Judge’s brassy and outrageously plumed party girl, Mayzie LaBird.

Composer Stephen Flaherty and lyricist Lynn Ahrens work pop, rock, Broadway ballads, blues, ragtime and Latin into a veritable patchwork quilt of a story book and musical score. The story is mainly told in song and topping the list of over thirty musical numbers are - It’s Possible, Alone in the Universe, and How Lucky You Are.

Much loved Dr.Seuss character The Cat in a Hat acts as MC, narrator and instigator of plot development. Ilkley Amateurs’ Zac Brady as the Cat - in a towering red and white striped top hat - finds just the right mixture of insouciance and barely controlled mania in his hugely entertaining role. Gabriel Jones makes Horton’s kindness shine through. His Alone in the Universe song with Malachy Bray’s sweet natured Jo Jo - the boy who was been banished to military school for ‘thinking too many thinks’ - will likely bring a tear to the eye.

Ilkley’s exuberant cast of youngsters is seasoned by a sprinkling of veterans - their unmistakable camaraderie comes across the footlights. There are some excellent voices and the many ensemble numbers are infused with tremendous pzazz. Choreography, costumes and scenic effects are a visual treat and the orchestral backing is superb. Although at last night’s opening performance, sonorous over-loud drums - and there are lots of them - skewed the balance of sound. Likewise, the amplification tended to crackle and distort young voices in the big ensembles. It needs toning down.

This charming and fun-packed family musical continues at the King’s Hall until Saturday.

Geoffrey Mogridge Images courtesy of Ilkley Amateur Operatic Society