|Date||15th November 2017|
|Society||Banbridge Musical Society|
|Venue||IMC Movie Studios, Banbridge|
|Musical Director||Dennis McKeever|
Author: Sheelagh Hobart
I have never read a Dr Seuss story either as a child, mother or grandmother, so I was intrigued about seeing Seussical for the first time. What a treat I had in BMS’s show, which turned out to be wonderfully wacky with catchy music and surprisingly profound underlying lessons.
The whole production was a spectacle of colour and energy, with everyone effectively playing their unique role.
The Set, designed constructed and painted by a talented local team, was perfect – piles of large Dr Seuss titled books used as different levels, backed by a beautifully lit painted landscape cloth. Various pieces such as
Fairytale-like houses were dropped into position (how lucky are BMS to have flying facilities!) or trucked in like the bathtub, behind which was a gauze with a full stage projection of tropical fish, which nearly took my breath away. Lighting and effects were excellent throughout and Sound mostly good – just a few first night blips. Costumes were colourful and appropriate to character – I was astonished to discover that they were nearly all made by Chairperson Rosemary Kelly. Many of them were worthy of a West End or Broadway show and they added so much to the success of the production.
The chorus was made up of 10 teenagers and one of two groups of 16 children – all of whom were well drilled and totally engaged in the action. (I’m sure the other children’s group was equally good). The teens were noticeable in their roles as jungle creatures and circus performers – lots of individual talents on show from gymnastics to drumming! Impulsive ‘bad boys’- the Wickersham Brothers (Ethan Haddock, Chrissy Corry & Adam Cooper) - did lots of athletic ‘monkeying around’ and jungle diva Sour Kangaroo (Mailie Connelly) and Baby Kangaroo (Ellie Reynolds) both had great singing voices. Kyle Emerson didn’t have much chance to show his impressive vocals but entered into the tongue-in-cheek discipline of the battlefield as General Gengus Khan Schmitz. Dennis Walsh and Jacqui Mathews took the roles of Mr and Mrs Mayor of the tiny world of “Whoville” in sensitive manner as concerned parents of JoJo, (although occasionally a bit of Dennis’ “Norn Ireland” accent crept through!). Claire Costello was a confident (and sexy!) good time girl Mayzie La Bird, supported well by Niamh Walsh, Catherine McLoughlin & Anna-Maria Boyle as the flamboyant Bird Girls. Their colourful plumes were well displayed as they sang and ‘strutted their stuff’.
The four main protagonists – Cat in the Hat, JoJo, Horton the Elephant and Gertrude McFuzz were very well cast. Ruairi McAlinden played the gentle giant Horton, who is honest, faithful and kind. He portrayed all these characteristics very well as he tried to protect the invisible planet of Who and then the Egg. I loved his elephant ears! Emma Kelly was Gertrude, whose main objective was to win Horton’s attention and affection. She totally captured the socially unsure character who, after taking advice on beauty from the Bird girls and still failing to attract Horton, displayed some lovely fits of tantrum! Her songs “Amazing Gertrude”, “Notice Me, Horton” and “All for You” were appealingly sung. Daire Downey showed maturity in his role as JoJo and sang well. First night nerves were nowhere to be seen and his lines were perfectly delivered. His onstage rapport with Anthony Fitzpatrick as the comedic and athletic Cat in the Hat was delightful. As the show’s emcee, Anthony popped up all over the place to hold the action together - always full of mischief and energy. He was generous in his relationship with others on stage. A real tour-de force!
Musical styles ranging from Latin to pop, Swing to gospel, R&B to Funk were well delivered by Dennis McKeever’s 8 piece band. Director Ian Milford caught the quirky nature of the piece and elicited excellent performances from those on stage. Together with innovative choreography from Lynn Gourley (who danced a beautiful ballet to ‘Solla Sollew”), they produced a magical extravaganza which led us all to think “strange and wonderful thinks”!
My sincere thanks to everyone involved.