Nancy Sasso Janis
Bob Tansley has directed an impressive 13 musicals with the Blessed Sacrament Children's Theatre at the Catholic school in Waterbury. His two casts always include students that attend Blessed Sacrament as well as many students from surrounding towns that would like to participate. Mr. Tansley credits Blessed Sacrament pastor Jeremiah Murasso with bringing back the music to the school and thanks a long list of parents involved behind the scenes for getting his massive productions on the BSS stage.
This year the director brought back the show that he had produced at BSS in 2005, the wonderful 'Seussical The Musical' with music by Stephen Flaherty, lyrics by Lynn Ahrens and the book by Mr. Flaherty and Ms. Ahrens and of course based on the works of Dr. Seuss. I have only had the pleasure of seeing two other BSS musicals but after attending the final dress rehearsal of the Red Cast and Friday's performance by the Blue Cast, I will admit that this year's 'Seussical' is my current favorite.
The whimsical set designed by Terri Thompson, Maggie Tremaglio, Lisa Tremaglio and Kathy Christ is but one indication of the quality of this production. "Scroll Meister" Kevin Dombroski gets the credit for producing an intricate design that includes hidden references to the director, co-director Pat Hearn, choreographer/assistant director Ben Orlando and others I probably missed. The stairs were painted with the titles of previous BSS productions.
This work of art rivaled any of the best community theatre sets I have seen and it was lit to perfection by Dan Checovetes (who I witnessed working his magic at the top of a huge scaffold at the dress rehearsal.) When the young actors entered their world of Dr. Seuss in outstanding costumes designed and coordinated by Debbie Forchielli, this stage truly was a wonder to behold.
The show opened with the entire cast onstage for "Oh the Thinks You Can Think," and never looked back. My favorite "Solla Sollew" and a blacklit "Havin' a Hunch (marvelously choreographed by Mr. Orlando) were highlights.
The talent of the cast rose to the level of the production values. Each and every member of the cast was well-rehearsed and put their heart into their roles. The Whos were decked out in orange, yellow and pink and gave new meaning to whimsy. The Citizens of the Jungle of Nool included exotic animals and jungle explorers and Circus McGurkus featured little gymnasts dressed as clowns.
Four girls and a guy with attitude played the Wickersham Brothers and the tiniest preschool students swam the auditorium as adorable fish in huge but adorable heads. The youngest cast members had limited stage time but they made the most of their performances and the crowd loved it. Young Carson Zaldo stepped out of this fish costume to play the elephant bird in the final scene at the Friday performance.
Hannah Dombroski and Sydney Rybczyk led the little fish as the turtles. Eighth grade students Brook Radaskie, Maggie O'Leary, Nicole Molina, Phoebe Cossette and Mia Giordano looked great while they sang backup as rainbow colored Bird Girls. Sydney Bradshaw sang big with her puppet as the Sour Kangaroo.
Stephanie Van Duzer played the staunch General and Vlad and she shared the roles with J. Blaise DiModugno. RJ Damato and Emely Castro were the tallish Mr. and Mrs. Mayor of the Whos and the couple was played by Sam Champagne and Claire Roberts in the Red Cast. Angelene Guglielmo played the green resident of Whoville, the Grinch. Alexandra Jannetty played beautifully the lazy Mayzie bird in both casts.
Kennedy Morris was a joy to watch as the purple Gertrude McFuzz in the Blue Cast and Grace Altenburger was also adorable in the role. Michael Meier played the young Jojo with lots of spunk and he shared the role with Everett Casini. Julia Mehlin had an outstanding voice for her role as Horton the Elephant and she shared the role with the lovely Gabrielle Saucier (who played Peter Pan last year.) The Cat in the Hat himself was played by two young ladies, Katherine Brown and Galvin Brayton. Both brought lots of brash energy to this leading role.
Keith Wilson was the musical director for the production and conducted the twelve-piece orchestra with Mr. Tansley's Post University team of Thankful Meoburt (also vocal coach) and Carolyn Fisher on keyboards. While the musicians sounded fabulous, some sections were too loud for the space. I was seated in the opposite corner of the large gym/auditorium and I had a tough time understanding the lyrics in this mostly sung through musical, despite the microphones on the lead characters. The quiet numbers were much easier to understand.
Mr. Tansley has announced that next year the BSS production will be 'The Little Mermaid.' This wonderful production of Seussical continues June 27 at 1:00pm and 7:30pm and June 28 at 1:00pm and 6:00pm.
Pictured: Members of the Blue Cast of 'Seussical' by Debbie Forchielli