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"I have to say I have never seen talent as phenomenal as the talent in the Lansing School District," said Lansing School Superintendent Mark Lewis at Monday's School Board meeting.  That doesn't begin to describe the whimsical, delightful, "Seussical the Musical."

Jojo learns the power of imagination from the Cat in the Hat

Most shows have some elements that are good and some bad.  The acting might be good, the sets so-so.  The music might be good, but the lights or sound might be off.  It is a rare show in which all the elements come together just right, but they were all spectacular in Lansing High School's "Seussical the Musical" last weekend.  You could have had a terrible day, paying bills, getting a flat tire, or having an argument, but the moment the lights dimmed in the Middle School Auditorium you just felt upbeat and foot-tapping happy.

I should state that I hate amateur theater, so this is high praise indeed.  One of the hallmarks of amateur performances is the endless scene change.  Music plays while the sets are moved.  Then it is played again.  There is a pause... more music.  By the time the next scene begins you have forgotten what happened in the last one!  But this show didn't miss a beat with scenes and scenery merging smoothly with the action, keeping the pace lively and fun.

The Cat, Gertrude the Bird, The Grinch

There is not enough space to mention all the performances.  Keelin Davi's Jojo was delightful.  Playing the son of the Mayor of Whoville, she nailed the role in movement and voice with whimsy and poise.  Andrew Mowson's Cat in the Hat was appropriately unpredictable and wild as he moved the story along as narrator and instigator.  CJ Griffin was daunting as the Grinch.  His role was somewhat different from the book in that the Whos considered him a Christmas entertainment rather than a real villain.  Katie Bruno gave a stand-out performance as Gertrude, the bird who had a tail enlargement to get Horton the elephant to notice her.  Hopelessly in love, she was frustrated as the perfectly hang-dog Matt Jones, consumed with his own problems, kept failing to notice her.

Horton protects the clover that is the world to the Whos

And what problems they were!  Having lost the clover that housed his beloved Whos, he found himself obligated to sit on an egg abandoned by the irresponsible and irrepressible bird Mayzee, played with a hint of Mae West by Haley Bacorn.  It all worked out in the end when Gertrude finally got Horton's notice by finding the Whos and bringing their clover to the hapless elephant.

Horton is doomed in kangaroo court

The sets were whimsical and delightful, colorfully depicting the famous Dr. Seuss book illustrations.  The costumes were equally outstanding, defining characters as diverse as kangaroos, an elephant, monkeys, cat and the miniscule Whos who live on a clover Horton is trying to protect.  Sarah Fazio's choreography made the production close to professional, and the orchestra, directed by Lorrene Adams never missed a note.

Mayzie talks Horton into caring for her egg,
Gertrude returns the clover to Horton

It is Director Cindy Howell's gift not to just bring the best out of her student actors, but to help them exceed that best in all their performances.  She said that she was attracted to the script in part by the topical issues it raises, such as the meaning of war, environmental issues and taking responsibility.  But these serious themes never overshadowed the delight in watching your favorite characters come to life.  "Seussical the Musical" will be a hard act to follow.

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