Warren Gerds/Critic at Large: Review: ‘Seussical The Musical’ a treat at Shawano


SHAWANO, Wis. (WFRV) – In many ways, Box in the Wood Theatre Guild’s production of “Seussical The Musical” embodies the best of community theater – an all-ages show presented by a cast of many ages that’s full of spirit, brightness and eager performances. Shows continue through July 20. Info: www.brownpapertickets.com/profile/72495.

The troupe even has a theme song sung at the end that fits right in with the style and tone of “Seussical The Musical,” so much so that it seems part of the show. The song tells all that “our paths lead to the box in the wood” – the Mielke Arts Center, just up a path through the woods off a parking lot in Mielke Park.

The production is so homey that during the curtain call on opening night, the full cast and audience sang “Happy Birthday” to cast member Beau Tuddenham.

Leading “Happy Birthday” was Brandon Byng, making his directing debut for Box in the Wood Theatre Guild. Normally, he can be found directing at Abrams Spotlight Productions, of which he is president and co-founder. To Shawano, Brandon Byng brought with him his organizational skills, knack at touching the can-do buttons of the performers and his performance abilities (as Horton, the elephant with a big heart and soul; to which he applies an appealing voice).

From the buoyant opening song, the cast jumps into the imaginative tale filled with crazy costumes, colorful set work and a-live characters drawn from stories by Dr. Seuss (Theodore Geisel). In a way, this is a kids’ show, but then again, it’s got the Dr. Seuss cleverness that appeals to adults, too.


Creative: Music – Stephen Flaherty; lyrics – Lynn Ahrens; book – Lynn Ahrens, Stephen Flaherty; concept – Lynn Ahrens, Stephen Flaherty, Eric Idle; based on the works of

Dr. Seuss; director – Brandon Byng; assistant director – Early Fuller; intern director – Faith Fuller; stage manager – Tanya Brehmer; assistant stage manager/lighting tech – Carmen Roskos; choreographer – Debra Jolly; costumes – Cheryl Folkerts, Denise Riley.

Cast: The Cat in the Hat – Brittany Delaruelle; Jojo – Breanna Duncan; Horton the Elephant – Brandon Byng; Gertrude McFuzz – Juliana Martin; Sour Kangaroo – Karen Fuller; Mayzie LaBird – Leah Allen; Wickersham Brother 1 – Michael Brunner; Wickersham Brother 2 – David Woosencraft; Wickersham Brother 3 – Ryan Steffen; Bird Girl 1 – Ashley Booth; Bird Girl 1 – Georgi Ritter; Bird Girl 2 – Alicia Rades; Bird Girl 2 – Haley Riemer; Bird Girl 3 – Sahara Homan; Bird Girl 3 – Sabrina Demaskie; Mr. Mayor – Ethan Fregien; Mrs. Mayor – Alivia Nordeng; General Gengus Khan Schmitz – Alex Torborg; Jungle Creature/Fish/Hunch – Mary Madsen; Jungle Creature/Fish/Hunch/Yertle the Turtle – Lori Jepson; Jungle Creature/Fish – Jordan Madsen; Jungle Creature/Fish – Peyton Buerman; Jungle Creature/Fish – Makayla Easley; Jungle Creature/Fish – Cassidy Rose; Jungle Creature/Fish – Charli Ritter;
Citizen of Who/Hunch/Hunter – Elaine Buerman; Citizen of Who/Hunch – Cindy Easter; Citizen of Who/Cadet/Hunter – Ryan Carriveau; Citizen of Who/Cadet – Morgan Fregien; Citizen of Who/Cadet – Maddie Fregien; Citizen of Who/Cadet – Maddie Easter; Citizen of Who/Cadet/Vlad Vladikoff/Hunter – Beau Tuddenham; Citizen of Who/Cadet – Grace Stuewer; The Grinch – Early Fuller.


Act I

“Oh, the Thinks You Can Think!” – Cat, Company

“Our Story Begins”/“Horton Hears a Who!” – Horton, Bird Girls, Jungle Creatures

“Biggest Blame Fool” – Sour Kangaroo, Horton, Wickersham Brothers, Bird Girls, Cat, Gertrude, Mayzie, Jungle Creatures

“Here on Who” – Mr. Mayor, Mrs. Mayor, Grinch, Whos, Horton

“A Day for the Cat in the Hat” – Cat, Jojo

“It's Possible” – Jojo, Cat, Fish

“How to Raise a Child” – Mr. Mayor, Mrs. Mayor

“The Military” – Schmitz, Jojo, Cadets

“Alone in the Universe” – Horton, Jojo

“The One Feather Tail of Miss Gertrude McFuzz” – Gertrude

“Amayzing Mayzie” – Mayzie, Gertrude, Bird Girls

“Amazing Gertrude” – Gertrude, Bird Girls, Cat, Nurse

“Monkey Around” – Wickersham Brothers

“Chasing the Whos” – Sour Kangaroo, Bird Girls, Wickersham Brothers, Cat, Horton, Whos, Jungle Creatures

“How Lucky You Are” – Cat

“Notice Me, Horton” – Gertrude, Horton

“How Lucky You Are” (Reprise) – Mayzie, Cat

“Horton Sits on the Egg” – Horton, Bird Girls, Gertrude, Cat, Jojo, Whos, Hunters

Act II

“Our Story Resumes”/“Egg, Nest, and Tree” – Sour Kangaroo, Bird Girls, Hunters, Wickersham Brothers, Jungle Creatures

“Mayzie in Palm Beach”/“How Lucky You Are” (Reprise) – Mayzie, Cat

“Mayzie at the Circus”/“Amayzing Horton” – Mayzie, Horton

“Alone in the Universe” (Reprise) – Horton

“Solla Sollew” – Horton, Jojo, Mr. Mayor, Mrs. Mayor, Jungle Creatures

“The Butter Battle”/ “Saving Private Jojo” – Schmitz, Jojo, Cadets

“A Message from the Front”/“Solla Sollew” Schmitz, Cadets, Mr. Mayor, Mrs. Mayor

“How Sad”/“A Re-enactment” – Cat

“Havin’ a Hunch” – Cat, Jojo, Hunches

“All for You” – Gertrude, Bird Girls

“The People Versus Horton the Elephant” – Cat, Yertle, Horton, Sour Kangaroo, Bird Girls, Wickersham Brothers, Jungle Creatures, Mr. Mayor, Mrs. Mayor Jojo, Schmitz, Whos

“Yopp!”/ “Alone in the Universe” (Reprise) – Gertrude, Horton

“Oh, the Thinks You Can Think!” – Company


The show has many featured roles as the story moves along through episodes. Brittany Delaruelle is spunky as The Cat in the Hat, who is sort of a narrator and commentator through song. Vitality abounds. Karen Fuller gets to sing blues as Sour Kangaroo. Juliana Martin provides the lesson of be careful of what you wish for as the short-tailed bird Gertrude McFuzz. Leah Allen is the saucy Mayzie LaBird, who sets up Horton for a year in a tree hatching her egg. Breanna Duncan is Jojo whose thinking leads him into trouble, almost breaking the heart of his parents, Mr. Mayor and Mrs. Mayor (Ethan Fregien and Alivia Nordeng).

The ensemble gets into the many fanciful roles and rhythmic lines and lyrics of songs that play on the thought that anything is possible (with Dr. Seuss, for sure). The show has an uplifting aura that’s just right for a family audience.

Colors jump off set pieces and costumes, except for a few dark characters.

Music is recorded.

Of course, with community theater there’s no big budget. And execution is sometimes loose. And… ack, nitpicking matters little with this production. “Seussical The Musical” is a wonderful show to involve a lot of people in fun roles, and Box in the Wood Theatre Guild puts on an impressive display of creating an entertaining experience.

THE VENUE: The Mielke Arts Center was dedicated as the Mielke Theatre on Feb. 9, 1976, in the 24-acre Mielke Park on Airport Road north of Shawano in the Town of Westcott. The building was renamed in 1994. The Shawano County Arts Council maintains and operates the center. The theater is of the “black box” type – unadorned (cinder block walls, painted black, and cement floor, painted gray) and adaptable to the needs of a specific production. For “Seussical The Musical,” much of the audience is seated on risers.

THE PEOPLE: The Mielke Family Foundation was established in 1963 by Dr. Edward F. Mielke and his wife, Beulah (Bee), together with sisters Ruth and Sarah Mielke. A native of Shawano, Dr. Mielke practiced medicine in Appleton for 60 years. Ruth Mielke presided over the library at Appleton West High School for 40 years. Sarah Mielke taught advanced mathematics at Shawano High School.

You may email me at warren.gerds@wearegreenbay.com. Watch for my on-air features on WFRV between 6 and 8 a.m. Sundays.

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