Fallsburgs Seussical triumphs over the odds
By LARRY SCHAFMAN
FALLSBURG, NY Horton the Elephant says many inspiring words in Seussical the Musical, performed by the Fallsburg Junior/Senior High School Drama Club on March 17. Anythings possible is probably the one that best describes this production, which had to overcome a series of obstacles to attain a triumphant performance night.
Set designer Harold Tighe, who completed his contribution to the production several weeks ago, did not see the outcome of his labor because he is in a Westchester hospital awaiting a liver transplant. The light board went out just a few days before opening night, and Irving Kaplan worked wonders to bring it back to life. Then the blizzard struck on Friday, dropping 14 inches of snow and canceling production. Fallsburg building and grounds superintendent Jay Shapiro mobilized his crew of Mike Gallo, Chet Zalsky, John Hynes, Charlie Haaf and Angelo Pacheco to plow and remove snow Friday night and all day Saturday. Zalsky worked night and day on the snow removal.
Thanks to these efforts, a packed house saw a spectacular show on Saturday night. The parking lots were clear, the light board functioned perfectly, and the set would be a source of pride for Tighe.
Ramya Pratt as JoJo was outstanding as a dreamer, who believed in the magic of life and having faith in your imagination. Adam Pavloff showed wonderful range as the Cat in a Hat. He charmed all with a German accent as a yogic magician who could lead Gertrude McFuzz to the pillbury bush for a new feathery tail, a blues accent as a piano-playing Ray Charles, and a French accent as a waiter in Palm Beach.
Aaron Kaplan set the tone for the entire play as the voice of inspiration and protector of the tiny residents of Whoville. He captured Hortons innocence even in the face of Mayzie La Birds duplicity, as conveyed vampishly by Petra Santiago. In her bright red plumage, Santiago had the audience and Horton actually believing how lucky he was to be sitting on her eggs nest for 52 weeks.
Heidi Woloszczak endeared herself to the Fallsburg audience as a delicious Gertrude McFuzz. Her eagerness to get a colorful tail showed off her comedic talents to the delight of all. Melanie Roberts belted out her numbers as the Sour Kangaroo and commanded respect with her homage to Aretha Franklin. Dominique Vales, a young seventh grader, showed great promise as the general leading an army of Whos. The Bird Girls, played by Lindsay Malman, Sophie Marsden, and Autumn Rundle, seemed to be in every other scene dancing, singing and brightening the stage with their talent and colorful costumes masterfully created by Janet Kaplan. Her use of kitchen utensils added a special touch for this Home and Careers teacher.
It was a true family affair for Fallsburg, as dad Irving Kaplan and son Aaron also built sets along with Jim Schmidt, father of cast member Amber. Heidis mom Bunny Woloszczak was stage manager, Melanie Roberts mom Andrea was advertising director, and Adams mom Ellen Pavloff was director. The plays success is a reflection of these peoples hard work to get the cast and crew together under stressful conditions. Special acknowledgment goes out to musical director Liz Toleno and orchestra director Nancy Wegrzyn for their accompaniment and keeping the show at a great pace throughout. Wegrzyn brought some of her Monticello High School students to add strings to the orchestra. Included in the orchestra were her sons Jeromy and Peter and husband Jim.
No matter how small the part on stage, off stage or behind the scenes, dozens of people prepared the school to welcome everyone and warm the hearts of several hundred happy spectators for two hours on a cold and wintry night. Like Horton the Elephant, this production of Seussical had wings and could fly beyond the sky.