Star Struck’s lively ode to Dr. Seuss a family treat

by W. Fred Crow, The Arts
Milpitas Post – January 20, 2005

What a delight! From the opening curtain through to the closing bows, “Seussical the Musical” charms young and old alike. Dr. Seuss is awash with powerful bold colors and lively songs and a presentation filled with pizzazz. This Seussical musical is a completely satisfying package. Nothing lacking. Star Struck Musical Theatre is presenting its latest staged offering, “Seussical the Musical,” at the Ohlone College, Jackson Theatre, in Fremont through Jan. 23. Seriously, take the family, take your nieces and nephews, take the grandkids, or just take yourself. This is a staged treat.

Director Lori Stokes was challenged with the idea of doing “Seuss.” There was loads of difficult music, the need for a large capable stage, requiring a cast of many all playing from the same page. When put together, Stokes hit the curtain with all cylinders pumping, much to the audience delight. Even the little things mattered and were attended.

There’s nothing complex about the plot. If you can think it, it can be. The key is having Thinks. “Oh the thinks you can think if you’re willing to try.” Taking center stage was Juliane Godfrey as the Cat in the Hat. Godfrey was perfectly cast in the title role as she exuded Cat in the Hat charm and Cat in the Hat mischievousness. Through body language and facial expression and vocal inflection Godfrey never broke from the much loved whacky character. With a strong, clear voice, she was a pleasure to watch and hear.

The Cat in the Hat tells Jojo (Daniel Schonhaut) the story of Horton the Elephant (Anthony Vega) whose giant ears hear the microscopic world of the village of the Who. Who happen to reside on a speck of dust. He decides to protect them from harm. Along the way he’s ridiculed and chided for his belief in beings so small that they cannot be seen. He remains true to his conviction; he remains true to his belief. Along the way, we, the audience, are engaged in the Think that anything is possible if we can think it.

The cast is huge. There are 55 young people on stage, too many to give individual nods. However, the entire group enjoyed presenting the show and that added to our enjoyment. Anthony Vega (Horton) sang with a rich round sound and held an engaging presence. Stacey Lynn Bell earned solid kudos for her role as Gertrude McFuzz, a bird with a tail feather of one. Courtney Stokes was stellar as Mayze La Bird, a flighty fowl of finely finicky framed intent. Nods to Melissa Modifer and Haley Joly (Sour and Young Kangaroo), and Jordan Aragon and Michelle Foletta (the Who mayor and wife).

Musical Director Nancy Godfrey and Anthony Nunes on percussion were splendid. As was choreographer Jeanne Batacan-Harper whose teaching finesse had so many young feet going in the right direction most of the time. And a Seussical musical would be no fun without the so familiar costumes and sets, and Marlene Borlaug and Andrea Bechert were outstanding.

For box office information, call (510) 659-1319.