Nov 14 2012 By Helen Russell
Shotts St Patrick's Amateur Opera Group perform Seussical the Musical
When the cast of Seussical the Musical stood on the stage last week and sang the catchy How Lucky You Are, it summed up the reaction of the audience who were fortunate to witness such an entertaining and colourful show from Shotts St Patrick’s Amateur Opera Group.
The story is based on the legendary characters of Dr Seuss and stage productions have had mixed reaction. But that was before the show was given the St Patrick’s treatment!
Shotts St Patrick’s are not afraid to tackle something different and Seussical the Musical was another success story for them.
Centre stage for the most part was the Cat in the Hat played by Darren Strang, who was tailored made for the role. He was also full of energy, engaged well with the audience, and was genuinely having a great time.
The part of his friend JoJo, whom he persuades to use his imagination, was shared between James Hughes and Christopher Bell. The evening I attended the show James was on stage and he certainly wowed the audience. Reports confirm that Christopher also gained acclaim. The role was important to the story and James kept the story flowing without a single falter, and his singing was amazing for one so young.
Horton the Elephant was played by Matthew Coulter who is a seasoned principal for St Patrick’s. This was not a role which challenged his talents to the full, but he made it his own with his relaxed approach and wonderful singing.
Chloe Edwards completely charmed the audience as Gertrude McFuzz, gaining the sympathy of the audience as she tried to get Horton to notice her. Her singing was beautiful and she projected well into the auditorium. She has real star quality.
Joe Totten is another seasoned member of the group and brought his usual professional approach to the part of Mr Mayor. He could not be ignored when on stage, not just because of the bright blue hair; his singing and acting brought the right focus to the character. He was well supported by Lesley Cook as Mrs Mayor. She was amusing with a great singing voice. The How to Raise a Child scene was especially funny.
Paula Kane as Mayzie was a glamorous bird who sang well and brought a fair measure of laughs from the audience. Her dance background was well used in her portrayal of the part.
The other significant Bird Girls were Maureen Barr, Aileen Shallow, Marie Smith and Anne Marie Totten who provided some of the best harmony in the show. Their stage experience shone as they kept the audience informed of the story with excellent diction.
Eileen Black as Sour Kangaroo was an endearing character with her tartan outfit and kangaroo in a bag. She sings and speaks with complete clarity and has great stage presence.
Brian Traynor, who has been honoured by the group as their honorary president, produced another of his cameo roles this year as the Grinch and the audience loved it. But this was not his only contribution. Brian was on stage for every ensemble scene which involved a number of costume changes – not bad for a senior citizen!
At the other end of the scale, there was Daniel Boyle, Findlay Cook, Andrew Jackson and Nathaniel Sweeney as the cadets/Wichershams. They were excellent with their disciplined marching and singing. Facial expressions also played a big part and these youngsters augur well for the future.
As cadets they were under the command of Schmitz played by Martyn Hewitt who displays good acting talent.
As the Wickershams, the boys were in the control of the Brothers played by James Brown and Patrick Jackson who made the most of their roles.
Gemma Burt as Yertle the Turtle gave a solid performance and is surely on the way to more principal roles.
This was a show that allowed the entire cast to show off their talents with great full ensemble scenes. The group are known for their excellent singing and great harmony and this reputation was enhanced in Seussical. The dancing was also well choreographed and made the best use of the stage. Judy Brown combines the roles of producer and choreographer and she never ceases to amaze. She is to be congratulated on making Seussical a show that people will not forget.
Musical director Fraser Wilson, as always, added his own magic ingredients to the show with his small orchestra. Fraser is credited with taking risks in choosing shows and Seussical can be added to his record of success.
All of the production team deserve praise for jobs well done. Wardrobe and scenery were excellent and the bubbles dropping from the ceiling during the bath scene was a lovely touch.
This may have been a new show to the majority of the audience at Howden Park Centre in Livingston but they will remember it now.