Repertory Philippines' 'Seussical' a joy on stage

By David Dizon, abs-cbnNEWS.com

Posted at Aug 17 2011 10:19 AM | Updated as of Aug 18 2011 04:20 AM

Repertory Philippines' 'Seussical' a joy on stage 1
Oliver Usison plays Horton in Repertory Philippines' "Seussical." Photo by David Dizon, abs-cbnNEWS.com

MANILA, Philippines - One of the first books I bought for my daughter was Dr. Seuss' Green Eggs and Ham which, in my opinion, should be given to any 2-year-old child who wants to read.

Green Eggs and Ham is made up of 1-syllable words except for the word "anywhere." It is goofy and fun, and never a bore for moms and dads who have to read the book to their kids again and again until they can do it on their own.

I wouldn't say you should watch Repertory Philippines' "Seussical" at Onstage Greenbelt 1 every night, but your kids might. The Seuss books already seem written for music because they are all in rhyme, so doing a whole musical based on the books is not much of a stretch. This play is a mismash of the plots from Horton Hears A Who and Horton Hatches The Egg, with additional characters such as The Cat and the Hat and Gertrude McFuzz. It's the story of Horton the Elephant and how he saves the people of Whoville while taking care of an egg left behind by Mayzie.

There's equal parts wonder and joy to this production that will make any kid at heart smile. Director Joy Virata said they kept the original script and music by Stephen Flaherty, but the interpretation was all Rep's. The set design by Oliver Roxas is inspired by Vincent Van Gogh's "Starry Night" and is a feast for the eyes. The costumes, based on 19th century circus performers, bring a "Cirque du Soleil" vibe to the show. And the songs such as "Biggest Blame Fool" and "Green Eggs and Ham" are of the kind that sticks to the mind at first listen.

What of the cast? Actors Oliver Usison and Charity Grace, who pray Horton and Gertrude McFuzz, respectively, were very good. Grace was especially engaging because she had a voice that was as clear as a bell. She also had the comic timing and energy to keep the young audience transfixed.

Noah Ramos, who plays Jojo, was like a pro, never forgetting a line or lyric in the entire play. Liesl Batucan, who plays Mayzie la Bird, brought sass and sizzle to her performance while Arnel Carrion as The Cat had an instant connection with the audience.

Repertory Philippines' 'Seussical' a joy on stage 2
Liesl Batucan plays Mayzie la Bird in Repertory Philippines' "Seussical." Photo by David Dizon, abs-cbnNEWS.com

Finally, a very pregnant Bituin Escalante played the role of Sour Kangaroo without much dancing but enough outsized singing to fill up the entire auditorium. I also had fun watching some of the actors who did exceptional work even if they had secondary roles, such as the mayor's wife (Naths Everett) and one of the wickersham monkeys.

Here's the bottomline about "Seussical:" After watching it, you'll feel energized and refreshed, and maybe even end up humming the tunes of some of the irresistibly catchy songs from the play. It's breezy, peppy, feel-good fun, light yet strangely satisfying -- just what the entire family should be watching on a weekend out.

"Seussical" performances run at Onstage, 2/F Greenbelt 1, Paseo de Roxas corner Legazpi Street, Makati City until December 18. For details of showdates, call (632) 571-6926 or 571-4941 or log on to www.repertory.ph. Tickets are also available through Ticketworld at (632) 891-9999 or www.ticketworld.com.ph.