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By Chris Frost
Tri County Sentry
Camarillo-- The Center Stage Players and Arts Repertory (CSPAR) delivered outstanding entertainment at Studio Channel Islands, Saturday, August 7, as the group gave a first-rate performance of Seussical, which delighted the crowd.
The volunteer troupe gave outstanding performances which highlighted the company's passion for theater.
CSPAR dedicates itself to bringing high-quality live theater to everyone in Ventura who desires to perform and loves watching theater.
The CSPAR leaders coached the group well, taught people with no theater experience proper stage movement (Blocking) and internal and external character development basics.
Seussical takes you on a musical adventure that drives home the point that "Anything's Possible When you Think Seuss."
The show opens with JoJo, played by Zada Esther Reis, called "The Thinker," who brings the Cat in the Hat, played by Eddie Speirs, to life. The Cat creates a Seussical World around the pair.
The Cat encourages JoJo to dream up the Jungle of Nool, where JoJo finds Horton the Elephant, played by Daniel Goldberg, who hears a noise floating along on a speck of dust.
Horton agrees to protect the speck of dust, where the Whos live. Although no one can hear the Whos except for Horton, he promises to protect them and proclaims that "a person is a person, no matter how small," and he places them on a clover.
People start accusing Horton of being crazy, except for Gertrude McFuzz, played by Christine Meier. She falls in love with Horton, but is afraid that he does not notice her because of her tail, consisting of "one droopy-droop feather." Mayzie, who has a grand tail, convinces Gertrude to take pills that make her tail grow new feathers.
The Whos struggled to survive on the tiniest planet in the universe, and their world was heading into war. Horton pledges not to let the Whos down.
JoJo is not interested in war and leaves. The Cat in the Hat appears to JoJo, and encourages him to use his thinks to find his way home and is reunited with his parents.
A band of delinquent monkeys steal the clover with the speck and get away. Mayzie La Bird, played by Renee Smith, offers to help Horton forget the Whos by having him hatch an egg that she doesn't want to care for. While Horton sits on the egg, he gets captured by a band of hunters who auction him and the egg to Circus McGurkus.
Gertrude frees Horton after she plucks all but one of her tail feathers to fly there, and she confesses her love for him.
She found Horton’s clover, which brought huge applause from the crowd watching as the Whos were alive. However, the Sour Kangaroo and the Wickersham brothers take Horton back to the jungle, where he is put on trial for talking to a speck, disturbing the peace, and loitering on an egg. Horton pleads with the Whos to make as much noise as possible. As Horton is about to be taken away and the clover is about to be boiled, JoJo creates the word Yopp, which the animals hear and clears Horton of the charges.
Horton finally hatches a flying "Elephant-Bird," played by Lexi Speirs, which causes Horton to panic. Gertrude and Horton agree to raise the child together.
Goldberg said he identifies with Horton and loves bringing him to life.
"I've always loved music in general, and I have been singing since I was in eighth grade," he said. "I had a little bit of stage fright, but I wanted to break out of that. I really relate to the character of Horton, so I thought this was a chance to get out of my shell and do what I love, which is singing."
He auditioned for the role of Horton because the character is friendly and kind.
"He tries to help out everybody," Goldberg said. "It doesn't always work out the best for him, but I have always tried to be a helpful and kind person, and some people take advantage of that. You'll see that it in the show, and I understand wanting to help everybody, no matter how small.’’
He said it took some time to get the part down and learn all the stage movements.
"We've been working since March, and we've blocking since May, at least," he said. "It's taken a while, but we've got it down, and I think it looks great."
Goldberg said learning to sing was a process.
"I've always been able to at least carry a tune, but I learned quickly that's not the only thing you need to be a singer," he said. "I've been taking voice lessons since I was about 17."
Eddie Speirs said the Cat in the Hat reflects his personality.
"Being goofy, playful, and being able to have fun," he said. "Working with the kids and the other cast members is also a lot of fun."
Eddie was on his maiden theater experience, and he did it because his oldest daughter has been involved with theater for three years.
"This is all-inclusive, and Noah (Skultety) said, why don't you audition and be in one of our shows, he said. "I auditioned and got the role of the Cat in the Hat."
He called stage movement a challenge because it was his first time on stage.
"I've also been taking vocal lessons from Noah to prepare for the show," Eddie said. "It's been out of my comfort zone. I am an engineer. This is my sixth show, so I am over the nerves by now."
Skultety co-founded CSPAR and directed the show but admitted that he wears many hats.
"I used to do a lot of catering here at Studio Channel Islands, and when I got out of restaurants, I wanted to start a non-profit theater organization for live productions as well as teaching," he said.
Skultety said Studio Channel Islands offered him a small space they transformed into a studio, and the group hit the ground running.
"Now we have several shows a year," he said. "We are all-inclusive, so we never turn away anyone who wants to perform with us."
He said choosing Seussical was easy.
"We wanted something joyous, especially with the pandemic," he said. "We wanted something that included everyone, including kids, adults, and was bright and colorful. Seussical delivers a great message."
The group was doing a production of Shrek, then Covid-19 hit and stopped everything.
"We had to cancel that production which we will do in 2022," he said. "It rallied the community around us, and we made it through as a fairly new non-profit theater organization."
Renee Smith added that she choreographed the show and played Mayzie La Bird, but she admitted that the outfit was too much for an everyday look. She mentors the newcomers.
Haylie loved the show.
"It's adorable, and my children love it," she said.
Rennix loved spending time with her mom and couldn't decide if she liked Horton on the Cat in the Hat more.