Press Report


Tiverton Gazette


December 26th 2006

Willow Tree's Seussical is a super smash hit

   Something completely new came to Tiverton with the arrival of Seussical the musical at the New Hall.  An explosion of colour and a robust overture, played by a 5 piece band led by Hilary Wickham, greeted the audience as the curtain went up on a thrilling journey into an upside down world of magic and mystery.
   If you are familiar with the Dr Seuss books, the whacky characters might not come as a surprise, but to the uninitiated, they were not just a delight, but a revelation. The bravery of the Willow Tree Theatre Company to stage this ambitious and almost entirely sung through musical cannot be more highly commended.  This is a technically difficult show, but the cast of 50 plus performers never let their energy or enthusiasm waver.
   Principals Jo Wilson-Hunt, Michelle Lockyer and Jan Pannell who sang Gertrude Mc Fuzz, Mayzie La Bird and Sour Kangaroo respectively, gave powerful and imaginative performances.  Dr Seuss, the Cat who wears the Hat, a character in itself  (very tall and beautifully made by Sue Wyllie) was played with a commanding cool-cat attitude by John Morrison, a newcomer to Willow Tree and an asset.  Horton the Elephant, who baby-sits Mayzie La Bird's egg for 51 long weeks while she plays away, is jailed, used as an exhibit in a circus and then celebrated for hatching an elephant-bird. Paul Williams conveyed a charmingly compliant elephant with sensitivity.

   The 4 Wickersham Brothers, out to rock the boat when ever possible, were mad and goofy in pastel drape coats - a special mention and applause must go to Steve Gage; not only was he one of these outlandish chaps, but he also helped director Jon Sowden with the excellent set design.  He and Theresa Priscott were credited with sharing the construction and the painting of it.  Steve was also responsible for some remarkable props; for the programme; for producing the show; acting as company manager and on top of all this, he is chairman of Willow Tree.
   Jamie Rumson sustained a talented performance throughout as JoJo, the young son of Sonny and Cher look-alikes. It is his journey into Seuss's 'wonderland' that is central to the story. I enjoyed his somersault onto the stage behind one of the exploding pyrotechnic effects.  This show had many more effects - including well managed radio mic's which are often hard to balance.  The superb band was a trifle loud on the first night making non-mic'd members of the cast difficult to hear.
   Last word must go to the costumes. They were a triumph like the show.

Article by Amanda Lean