- IMAGE COURTESY OF STEVE E. MILLER
- TRISYLLABIC METER : Kelly Barrett as Gertrude McFuzz and Matt Ambrose as Horton are pictured.
When deciding to bring the famous musical to SLO, director Erik Austin remembered he loved a challenge. “I had never done Seussical before and wanted to do a new, colorful, fun, show,” Austin said. In his 17-year career with Kelrik Productions, children’s shows have been his mainstay. He isn’t just a big kid on a small stage, he’s the commander of this ship—a fact that is quite evident amid the more than two dozen actors, (toddlers to middle aged).
But the real star is kid phenomenon Kelly Barrett, who plays Gertrude McFuzz. Any director would be be thrilled with 13-year-old Barrett as the star, who shines in “Notice Me Horton.” She’s a theater veteran who idolizes Barbara Streisand, and it shows.
The blonde showstopper has performed in many shows over the last three years with Kelrik Productions. She played the lead in
Annie and Willie Wonka, (yes, she played Charlie!), and has performed with PCPA, quite memorably in White Christmas. She has been in theater “forever” and this is her third time performing in Seussical, The Musical. But it’s the music that’s the true attraction for Barrett.
Some strive to play Stanley in A Streetcar Named Desire or Hickey in Iceman Cometh, but 23-year-old Matt Ambrose’s dream role is an elephant. In Seussical, The Musical Horton is the scene stealer.
- IMAGE COURTESY OF STEVE E. MILLER
- HORTON HEARS A WHO! : Join The Cat in the Hat on a visit to the Jungle of Nool and the planet of Who in this magical musical extravaganza that brings to life cherished characters in Seussical The Musical.
Ambrose, who works full time, has been a thespian for four years, getting his start in a role in Evita, where he met Austin. He will play Albert in Bye Bye Birdie in March, Kelrik’s biggest show, a production costing more than $35,000.
Kelrik’s Breakaway 2010 is the last season for the production house, and the upcoming Disney’s Beauty and the Beast in July will be their 100th production since opening their doors in 1993.
Austin believes Kelrik shows have resonated with local theater-goers because they are family friendly fare; always a mix of kids and adults, yet not specifically for children. This fact enables him to put on plays at Unity, as well as the PAC at Cal Poly.
In Seussical, the animated “Oh, The Things You Can Think” includes a handful of adults, who supply the majority of
the play’s lead parts and many children
in luminous wigs.
“Alone in The Universe” is poignant and sweet as the love story takes stride, accompanied by a mix of song and dialogue, as the love story between Horton and Mya Paredes, shining as JoJo, takes stride, accompanied by a mix of song and dialogue.
Each child performer has three changes, the vibrant wardrobe more of a suggestion of animals. Some are in saloon dresses with feathers attached, feathered head dresses, and all have green and hot pink wigs.
The sets are high-schoolish but nicely executed with bold strokes and bright hues, with a touch of whimsy. Austin likes their simplicity. “The characters and songs are built so well, you don’t need the bells and whistles.”
Seussical is mostly based on Horton Hears a Who! with a side of hope and is the brainchild of Stephen Flaherty and Lynn Ahrens who wrote the music and lyrics consecutively, and the play itself. Austin’s mischievous Cat in The Hat narrates Seussical, its vibrancy akin to a box of fat Crayons melting down and coming alive. While staying true to his mantra, he looks as if he’s having the most fun of anyone on stage.
Not a bad way to say a theatrical goodbye to the Central Coast.
Christy Heron likes both green eggs and ham. Send condiments to firstname.lastname@example.org.