Preview: Seussical, Arts Theatre

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By Lucia Blash

It's every actor's dream to walk straight out of theatre school into a plum professional role.

Having recently graduated from Liverpool Institute for Performing Arts Jordan Veloso came down to London to audition for a part set up by his agent.

So impressive was his performance, the casting panel snapped him up there and then, and, on Saturday, Jordan will step out in the hugely imaginative and highly entertaining musical Seussical.

"It's all happened so, so quickly," said Jordan. "It's like my life has suddenly moved onto fast forward. It hasn't really sunk in yet. It's very Dr Seuss like - crazily quick paced but fun just the same. So much fun."

Presented by Greenwich-based Sell A Door Theatre Company for the second year running, Seussical is a journey into the fantastical world of Dr Seuss.

Told by The Cat In The Hat and featuring a host of Dr Seuss' most colourful creations the high energy, fast-paced show follows the story of Horton the Elephant who hears a Who, with "thinks" that defy all description.

Jordan takes on the role of Jojo, an 11-year-old boy, who enters this magical world. For many actors finding that inner child can prove challenging but for 22-year-old Jordan it has been a dream.

"I'm really connecting to the character," said Jordan. "Jojo has such a wonderful imagination, so wild and free. One of the things you learn at drama school is that when you're a kid you don't have boundaries. You can do whatever you want because you don't really care what people think.

"I do a lot of work with children. At one of my classes I've really started to zoom in on Jojo's age group, looking at their characteristics, what they do and how they react in certain situations. It's great to be able to see the world through a child's eyes. I've even started to believe in Santa again."

Jordan is joined on stage by Kirsty Marie Ayres, who returns to the role of Gertrude McFuzz. She is the only member from last year's original cast to appear in the new production.

Having won rave reviews for her "enchanting" little bird with a big heart Kirsty has a lot to live up to but is relishing the challenge.

"I was really excited, although a little nervous to be asked to play her again," said Kirsty. "It's always exciting to try to bring something new to a role.

"All our boys are new; I've got a new Horton so that changes the dynamic. I'm learning how I can play opposite him. That's what makes it fun."

Having played the role of Gertrude previously, Kirsty has become very fond - and protective - of the vulnerable little character who is too shy to express her true feelings. Kirsty believes everyone has a little Gertrude inside them.

She said: "Everyone has had unrequited love whether it was in school or a case of just liking or admiring someone so much you want them to look at you, to make you feel amazing.

"Everyone's been lonely at some point in their lives. Gertrude has very human qualities - her frailties are what makes her so appealing. She really does tug at the heart strings."

And the fact Gertrude McFuzz gets her elephant in the end is the stuff of happily ever afters...

Nov 30-Jan 5, Arts Theatre, Newport Street, WC2H 7JB, various times, £25 (£22.50), artstheatrewestend.co.uk.

DR SEUSS
■ Theodor Seuss Geisel was born in 1904 in Springfield, Massachusetts.

■ His mother would soothe him and sister Marnie to sleep with rhymes, the source of his inspiration, he said.

■ He became editor-in-chief of Dartmouth College's humour magazine and, although sacked for taking part in a drinking party, he contributed work under the name of "Seuss".

■ He went to Oxford University where he met Helen Palmer, his first wife.

■ His first book was rejected 26 times.

■ At the time of his death in 1991, he had written and illustrated 44 books and had sold 200million copies.

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