SOS Presents MAST Mayflower Studios, Southampton David A Putley 29 June 2023
When you’re sat in the theatre and just waiting to start… it’s a show that you love… know the score off by heart… tell yourself… how lucky you are…
And this lively fully ensemble interpretation did not disappoint on any level, be it musically with a terrific orchestra in the talented hands of Martin Paterson and skilled direction by Sophie Barnard, combined with an all-age enthusiastic cast. They have both worked incredibly hard to create such an imaginative experience.
Now a staple for Junior performers, this show deserves a higher profile on the am-dram circuit, as its themes of kindness, courage and devotion are universally explored via the characters of Dr Seuss.
Funny, emotional and with some cracking songs, see Horton the elephant (a beautifully sung Adam Rush) mocked for his strange conviction that a dust speck is populated by a village of little people (The Whos, on top umbrella usage discipline) and later faces further ridicule when he agrees to help hatch an egg abandoned by the flighty party girl, Mayzie La Bird, in full pert, chirpy and seductive full belief mode by Amy Longland.
Horton and The Whos’ Mayoral couple’s son Jo-Jo, played with sweet delight and confidence by Izzy Li, are both made to “feel alone in the universe”, as the lyric has it, as they cling to their beliefs in the face of stern opposition: headed by a sassy Sour Kangaroo (an Aretha-esque vibe from Moga Moodley with a voice to match) and a set of opportunist Monkeys, known as the Wickersham Brothers (Harry Taylor, Samuel Davis and Georgia Brenchley in great rapper cool mode, complete with matching ear-rings), Horton finds help from an unlikely source along the way in the form of Gertrude McFuzz, played here with great empathy, energy and heart by Abigail Jeffery. Their scenes together were particularly warmly performed.
The whole show is held together by The Cat adapting to various personas and accents, dynamically played and sung by Jack Oliver.
On Who, Mr and Mrs Mayor were suitably out of touch parents in the hands of Richard and Amanda Peaty, adding to the wonderful ‘Solla Soolew’ sequence, a personal highlight of this infectious score. Adding military precision to the proceedings was Mike Pavitt in calm cool mode as General Shmitz, drilling a well-disciplined set of youngsters. The second half scene was a lovely moment acted with genuine bemusement at Jo-Jo’s reaction to war.
High praise should also be given to Marie Cairns, Rebecca Woodhead and Freya Golding for stage presence and perfect diction, harmony singing and movement throughout.
Seussical is a director’s dream in many ways as it allows the imagination to literally run riot and Sophie Barnard’s ingenuity in using a marvellous array of props is to be suitably applauded. The creation of the boat, the falling of the clover scene, the comings and goings off stage, the lit ‘branches’ for the entrance of the Wickershams, and the marvellous ‘Having a Hunch’ scene were particularly well performed and thought out.
The singing and diction were of a high standard throughout combined with thoughtful choreography by Kiri Golding, using a heavily populated stage at times with adept awareness. A definite ensemble piece with The Grinch, a baby kangaroo and a dour Judge also enhancing wonderfully costumed proceedings along the way. The whole show rang as a full team effort combined with very professional lighting and sound, backstage etc in the hands of a team of creative talent and concept.
So, if you’re feeling all blue and you dream of excess… come along see this show… at The Mast SOS…
Then you’ll see how lucky you are.