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The Honolulu Advertiser
Posted on: Wednesday, September 10, 2003

Kids eat up latest 'Green Eggs and Ham'

By Joseph Rozmiarek
Advertiser Drama Critic

 •  'Green Eggs and Ham' and 'Gertrude McFuzz'

Hawai'i Theatre

Family Performances

1:30 p.m. and 4:30 p.m., Saturday; 1:30 p.m., Sunday; 1:30 p.m. and 4:30 p.m., Sept. 20; and 1:30 p.m., Sept. 21

$24, $12 adults; $12, $6 children


The Honolulu Theatre for Youth has brought back "Green Eggs and Ham," Robert Kapilow's opera based on the popular children's book by Dr. Seuss, with the same delights, but kicked up a few notches to make for an even better stage experience.

Six years ago, Honolulu Theatre for Youth took a big step by staging the production, guest-directed by Seattle resident Mark Lutwak, with musical direction by Lina Jeong Doo.

The big punch came from exaggerated, neon-colored set pieces that rolled in on wagons and dropped from the ceiling — providing a collage of chutes and ladders for the characters to explore. HTY company actors sang to prerecorded music.

The kids loved it.

Today, the production is back in the HTY season. Again, it's another big step for the company — given momentum by collaboration with Hawaii Opera Theatre and the Honolulu symphony.

Lutwak again does the staging, but now he's HTY artistic director. Doo returns as vocal director, and the eye-popping sets are again designed by Tobin Alexandra-Young. But Joan Landry conducts a 10-piece orchestra and three HOT singers join HTY company players in the cast.

The kids still love it.

HTY actor BullDog does the pre-show warm-up, getting the young viewers to practice animal noises and then to practice being quiet. He introduces the orchestra instruments by bringing up their players — Dr. Seuss-style — out of a large box that camouflages a trap door.

"Gertrude McFuzz" is the opening piece, with Georgine Stark as the vain title character who longs for more tail feathers. Louise South plays the doctor who tells her about the special berries that will grow them. The moral: The berries work, but the added weight makes it impossible for Gertrude to fly.

The title event follows, and "Green Eggs and Ham" turns into a progression of visual surprises that delight adults as well as children. Julius Dae-Sung Ahn is the Grump who refuses to take a bite. "I do not like green eggs and ham. I do not like them Sam-I-Am."

Ahn has a soaring tenor that becomes more powerful as the lyrics repeat and spiral upward. Jonathan Clark Sypert is the ever-optimistic Sam, and Bulldog, South, and Stark join in as the Goat, the Fox, and the Mouse.

Members of the cast, dressed in their outrageous costumes by Melanie Taylor Burgess, are available for pictures with the youngsters following the performance. So be sure to bring your cameras.