Listen, listen real close as if you are trying to hear a Who. Do you hear it? Me singing the songs from Seussical: The Musical a whole three days after I saw it.
Several of the catchy numbers are still stuck in my head. What’s impressive, is certainly not my singing voice, but the impression that the production left upon me. It wasn’t a national touring company that left me totally wowed, but the Dayton based, Dare to Defy Productions. While a very limited budget didn’t allow for flashy costumes, dazzling special effects or a high-tech lighting/sound system a theatre company is still a theatre company, no matter how small and the talented cast made for a Broadway quality production.
This was the first show from Dare to Defy that I’ve attended and it certainly won’t be the last. I was highly impressed and kept thinking of how a number of themes from Seussical represents the production company. The founder of Dare to Defy, Becki Norgaard, stretched her imagination and if she wasn’t afraid to think of the things that she thought, Seussical or any other production would have never been. However, the efforts of Norgaard and all involved prove that even the wildest of dreams…is possible.
The entire cast is sensational, led by A.J Breslin as The Cat in the Hat. His versatility shines, as if I wasn’t certain that Breslin was playing a cat that I’d think he was a chameleon. All of his vocals, mannerisms, and movements were spot-on. Breslin’s energy was contagious and I could stand to watch him in the role through all 9 of its lives. Equally exceptional was Skyler McNeely as Horton the Elephant. If anyone, anywhere, including in New York, could play Horton any better I would pay top dollar to see it. (Okay, I would ask for a press ticket, but that’s not the point) To be perfectly honest at my first glimpse of Horton I was disappointed by the lack of a costume, but the emotions and sensitivity displayed by McNeely is the only dressing he needs. His singing of ‘Alone in the Universe,’ is one of the musical highlights and really pulls at the heartstrings. Speaking of, the song is shared with JoJo (Chavin Medina). A performance way beyond his years is given by Medina. If he gets any better with age, well…anything’s possible. Another stand-out and not just because of her tail was Kim Comacho as Gertrude McFuzz. Comacho was highly endearing and downright loveable with her performance. She nearly steals the show with ‘All For You.’
A special mention must also be given to the orchestra, who never missed a beat, and everyone else in the cast as they all brought something special to the production.
Mike Woody is a life long resident of Dayton, and has a passion for writing, which is good because he doesn't excel at much of anything else, except eating.