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Seussical! as presented by Coolmine Musical Society

Seussical The Musical as performed by Coolmine Musical Society 

14th - 18th November, 2023

Date of Adjudicated Performance: Thursday 15th November, 2023

“A person’s a person, no matter how small.” The amazing Dr.Seuss couldn’t even have been aware that such a person as Seán O’Callaghan was someday going to exist and make the role of Jojo his own, when he wrote this wonderful lyric, which has become the backbone of the musical that is Seussical, and yet, here we are in 2023, witnessing a production that explodes from the stage with colour, charisma, classic comedy, charm, wit and wonderful musical quality, and at it’s very core is a little man for whom the whole piece might well have been written. With great maturity, yet the innocence of youth, Seán gave a resplendent display of confidence and vocal ability, bringing his character to life with sentiment, sincerity and assurance. He understood his comedy and built a great working relationship with the Cat in the Hat and with Horton the Elephant. I have no idea where he got his talent from! But he has it by the bucketful. Well done, young man.

Of course, without a great supporting cast around him, and without the dynamic effort put in by Director, Pat McElwain, Musical director, Caitríona Ní Threasaigh, and Choreographer, Nicole McDonald, Seáns wonderful performance might all have been for nothing. Thankfully, though, he was fortunate to be at the centre of a quite brilliant overall production with Coolmine Musical Society. Holding the reins of the production and steering it to a successful conclusion, Director Pat McElwain crafted every aspect of the show, from strong characterizations to good stage positioning, from beautiful scenery and costumes to a technically secure and reliable display throughout, and he did so most effectively, with individual touches and tweaks that created a pretty perfect package. His appreciation of story telling and of the charm and magic of Seuss was evident throughout.

Similarly, Nicole McDonald did an amazing job of adding flair, variety and character to this production with a quite excellent assortment of styles and steps that capitalized beautifully on the varied rhythms of the musical score. The great strength of her choreography was that she played to the strengths of her performers and it all blended together just perfectly.

Completing the production team, Musical Director, Caitríona Ní Threasaigh, guaranteed that the show was musically sublime. Choral harmonies were strong and secure and principal vocals were of a very high standard. The tone and handling of the show’s most tender pieces, Alone in the Universe and Solla Sollew, was particularly controlled and impressive. Truly a night of beautifully performed music.

Colin Flynn gave a quite stunning performance as The Cat in the Hat, light on his feet, secure in his vocals, hysterical in his many characterizations, and visually brilliant in appearance. He conducted the orchestra with aplomb during the entr’acte, but it was his ease at transitioning from Cat to Doctor, to conductor, to masseur in Palm Beach, etc, etc, that made his character a joy to behold. This was an excellent performance. 

Justin Parkes proved to be a mellow and delightfully charming Horton the Elephant. His was a well-rounded performance, strong on sentiment and sincerity, and topped off with the most melodic vocal quality. 

Emmagene Cooke impressed me greatly with a quirky and comedic portrayal of Gertrude McFuzz, always cute and committed, always sincere in her affections for Horton. Despite 

sounding occasionally throaty in her upper register, she never lost a word nor a note in what was a highly comical and convincing performance. 

Karen McCourt was feisty, fiery, flamboyant, self-indulgent and somewhat mesmerizing as Mayzie La Bird, oozing confidence from every pore, and as delightful in her movement as she was secure in her vocals. She strutted the stage like she owned it.

Equally secure as the judgemental Sour Kangaroo, Michelle Harris’s vocal quality was most impressive, and complemented by an excellent characterization and an abundant dance ability. She was ably supported by her young Kangaroo, nicely played by young Thea Cronin. 

Rory Dignam and Nicole Lamb as Mr and Mrs Major gave wonderful character and leadership to the Whos, both delightfully animated and exaggerated in their emotions and both vocally secure.

Ronan Walsh gave great character to General Schmitz, Shay Griffin was an impressively grumpy Grinch and Robbie Kennedy was a spirited Judge Yurtle. 

Andrew Hayes, Ciarán Lenihan and Eoin Hamell were a troublesome trio of mischievous monkeys as the Wickersham Brothers, showing great agility and strong vocal ability.

Louise Hudson, Kathryn Browne and Olivia O’Donoghue posed purposefully, danced delightfully and vocalized with vitality as the Bird Girls, adding a touch of glamour to all their scenes.

Other worthy performances were given by an animated Faye Nulty and Aoibheann Murray as Thing 1 and Thing 2, Kathryn Gibbons as Cindy Lou Who and little Cara Cronin as the cute little Elephant Bird. 

Energy was the most outstanding quality of a wonderfully integrated and animated chorus, whose presentation was as top notch as their wonderful vocal contribution to the production. The show was very inclusive and it always looked as if the chorus were thoroughly enjoying their involvement. Very good work. 

The beautifully devised set for the show was a superb artistic success, recreating the colours and images of the Dr. Seuss books to great effect. Stage management, under Gerry McCann, was slick and secure, ensuring a free-flowing presentation. Added to the great set was a very appealing lighting plot, full of colour and atmosphere, with particularly well-delivered black light scenes. The only minor flaw was that the front R and L corners of the stage (often used areas) were a tad under-lit. Sound quality throughout, both in cueing and in balance, was of a

high quality.

But it was the visual quality of the show that really excelled, with props, hairstyles, hats, make-up, feathers and frills, all expertly chosen and thrown together brilliantly to create a magical, fairy-tale fantasy on the stage that was a feast for the eyes.

Thank you for an awesome, colourful, creative and perfectly performed night of musical escapism. 


Peter Kennedy, Gilbert Adjudicator

Some photos kindly provided by the society. (Photographer - Liam Foster)


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