|Basis||The stories of Dr. Seuss|
2000 Boston tryout
2002 1st US Tour
2003 2nd US Tour
2012 West End
Seussical is a musical by Lynn Ahrens and Stephen Flaherty based on the books of Dr. Seuss that debuted on Broadway in 2000. The play's story is a rather complex amalgamation of many of Seuss's most famous books. After a Broadway run, the production spawned two US national tours and a UK tour. It has become a favorite for school, community and regional theatres.
- 1 Productions
- 2 Contributing Dr. Seuss books
- 3 Plot
- 4 Songs
- 5 Songs in Seussical Jr.
- 6 Instrumentation
- 7 Characters
- 8 Awards and nominations
- 9 References
- 10 External links
In a reading in New York City, Eric Idle played the Cat in the Hat, and was credited at the time for contributions to the story line. In the Toronto workshop in 1999, coordinated by Livent Inc., Andrea Martin played the Cat in the Hat. The musical had its out-of-town tryout in Boston, Massachusetts at the Colonial Theatre in September 2000.
Seussical opened on Broadway at the Richard Rodgers Theatre on November 30, 2000. Directed by Frank Galati with choreography by Kathleen Marshall; though uncredited, Kathleen Marshall's brother Rob Marshall was hired to direct the show when it returned from Boston to Broadway; the original Broadway cast included David Shiner as the Cat in the Hat, Kevin Chamberlin as Horton, and Anthony Blair Hall as Jojo. It also featured Janine LaManna as Gertrude McFuzz and Michele Pawk as Mayzie LaBird, with Stuart Zagnit as the Mayor of Whoville, Alice Playten as the Mayor's wife, Sharon Wilkins as the Sour Kangaroo and Eric Devine as General Genghis Khan Schmitz also appearing. Throughout the run, there were many celebrity Cat in the Hat replacements, including Rosie O'Donnell and Cathy Rigby.
The production received lukewarm reviews, with critics focusing on the huge cast of characters and unsympathetic plotlines. The Broadway production closed on May 20, 2001 after 198 performances and 34 previews.
United States tours
The script for the first tour was extensively reworked after the poor showing on Broadway. This resulted in the removal or reworking of several songs. The biggest change involves Jojo, who is initially an anonymous boy who thinks up The Cat in the Hat when he finds a strange hat at center stage. The Cat helps the boy create the Seussian universe and the rest of the story. The Cat later shoves the boy into the story, making him play the role of Jojo. There is also additional dialogue, as well as the deletion of some songs and their reprises.
It is this version of the musical that is currently rented by the leasing company, and has enjoyed some success in regional and children's theater companies across the country.
A 90-minute Off-Broadway production was staged at the Lucille Lortel Theatre from July 19, 2007 through August 17, 2007 by Theatreworks USA, directed and choreographed by Marcia Milgrom Dodge and starring Shorey Walker as The Cat in the Hat. This production was downscaled from the first USA tour.
West End, London
Seussical opened on the West End at the Arts Theatre on December 4, 2012, by Sell a Door Theatre Company based in Greenwich, London. Produced by David Hutchinson and Phillip Rowntree and directed by Phillip Rowntree, designed by Richard Evans, lighting by Alexander Ridgers with choreography by Cressida Carrè.
Another one-act version of the show, Seussical the Musical, Jr. is designed for performances by junior high or middle school students, and part of the MTI "Jr." series. The Junior version of Seussical was changed from the full-length Broadway version to make it shorter, in one act, and more accessible for younger actors.
A one-act version of the show was reworked with the permissions of the playwrights in 2004. The "Theatre for Young Audience" version contains significant changes, including reducing the cast to 12 actors and removing the entire military subplot.
Contributing Dr. Seuss books
The overarching plot of the show mirrors that of Horton Hears a Who!, centering on Horton the Elephant's endeavors to protect the people of Who-ville, who live on a tiny speck of dust. It also features characters and scenarios from many other Seuss books, including the Butter Side Uppers/Downers from The Butter Battle Book, Gertrude McFuzz, and, in addition to a music number based on its original story, The Cat in the Hat also acts as "your host and MC" – sometimes being an outside observer, a narrator and devil's advocate throughout the show, briefly leaping into the action on several occasions to create conflict and keep the story moving. In all, the following Seuss books have some minor characters and/or settings incorporated into the show:
Due to the elimination of songs such as "The Military", "Havin' A Hunch" and "Message from The Front" and phrases and sections of other songs, Seussical, Jr. only uses the books:
- Horton Hears a Who!
- Did I Ever Tell You How Lucky You Are?
- One Fish Two Fish Red Fish Blue Fish
- The Cat in the Hat
- If I Ran the Circus
- McElligot's Pool
- Green Eggs and Ham
- Yertle the Turtle and Other Stories
- Horton Hatches the Egg
- I Had Trouble in Getting to Solla Sollew
- Oh, the Thinks You Can Think!
More info on the cut songs are below.
This synopsis describes the full length Broadway version.
- Act I
("Overture") The "The Cat in the Hat", acting as narrator, sits on a bare stage, save for an odd multi-colored circle background ("Oh, the Thinks You Can Think!").
In the Jungle of Nool, where Horton the Elephant is bathing ("Our Story Begins"), he hears a strange noise coming from a speck of dust. He rescues the speck and places it on a clover to guard ("Horton Hears a Who"). The other animals mock him, except for Gertrude McFuzz, who admires his compassion and begins to fall in love with him ("Biggest Blame Fool"). Horton hears the mysterious voice again, which belongs to the Mayor of "Who", a dust-speck planet covered with microscopic inhabitants called Whos. The Cat in the Hat zooms in on the dust speck as the Whos are revealed. The Mayor, his wife and the rest of the Whos reveal their planet is so small and fragile they are constantly threatened with death, and beg Horton to help protect them. His resolve strengthened, Horton promises he will guard the dust speck ("Here on Who")
The mayor's son, Jojo, is scolded by his parents for thinking "thinks", imaginary thoughts which disrupt his school classes and anger his teachers ("A Day for the Cat in the Hat"). Although he tries not to think thinks, he starts to imagine his tub is McElligot's pool where his thinks soon spiral out of control ("It's Possible") and cause time to fly. Frustrated, the Mayor and Mrs Mayor agree to "lay down the law" but are unsure of just how to discipline their son ("How to Raise a Child"). After receiving a brochure, they decide to send him to a military school run by a misguided warmonger named General Genghis Khan Schmitz, who is preparing to go to war with those who eat their bread butter-side down ("The Military").
Horton meets Jojo, with whom he bonds as a fellow social outcast ("Alone in the Universe"). The next day, Gertrude (whose feelings for Horton are still strong) laments that her tail only has one feather, believing its sorry sight is the reason Horton is not noticing her ("The One Feather Tail of Miss Gertrude McFuzz"). Mayzie LaBird, whose tail is enormous and dazzling, advises Gertrude to obtain pills from Doctor Dake, which Mayzie promises will make her tail "almost as amazing" as hers ("Amayzing Mayzie" / "Amayzing Gertrude"). Gertrude is so excited about her tail, she overdoses.
Horton is ambushed by a group of mischievous monkeys, the Wickersham Brothers ("Monkey Around") who steal the clover and give it to an eagle, Vlad Vladikoff, who drops it into a large patch of identical clovers ("Chasing the Whos"). The Cat in the Hat freezes the action and delivers an ironically cheery tune about how fortunate the audience is not to be the Whos ("How Lucky You Are"). Horton looks for the clover, while Gertrude tries to attract his attention. Horton, however, is so intently focused on his mission he does not notice her, and a dejected Gertrude retreats to take more pills ("Notice Me, Horton"). Mayzie LaBird, who has just been abandoned by her lover and left with an egg, interrupts Horton's search and begs him to sit on it so she can take an afternoon off ("How Lucky You Are" (Reprise)). Horton reluctantly agrees, and Mayzie flies away, but does not return. As winter approaches, Horton is captured by hunters. Gertrude makes an attempt to rescue him, but the size and weight of her new tail does not allow her to fly ("Horton Sits on the Egg").
- Act II
("Entr'acte") ("Our Story Resumes") Horton is transported to New York City ("Egg, Nest and Tree") and auctioned off to the circus ("The Circus McGurkus"), lamenting his sorry state ("The Circus on Tour"). Mayzie is lazing about in Palm Beach, where she admits she tires of the monotony of sunbathing ("Mayzie in Palm Beach"). She decides to attend the Circus, where she reunites with Horton and the egg. Horton pleads for her to take it back, but Mayzie refuses, and gives the egg to Horton to keep forever ("Amayzing Horton"). Alone with the egg, a sorrowful Horton vows to nurture it himself ("Alone in the Universe" (Reprise)) and sings a lullaby about a magical world called Solla Sollew.
On Christmas Day, Jojo and his fellow cadets are deployed to fight in the Butter Battle. Jojo finally confronts General Schmitz, declaring his belief in the immorality of the war and deserting the army. However, he causes an explosion which is thought to have destroyed him ("Green Eggs and Ham" ("Transition to Butter Battle")). Jojo's parents learn of his alleged death ("A Message from the Front") at the Christmas Pageant. The Cat in the Hat, however, reenacts the scene, so the audience sees that Jojo is actually alive, but lost in some dark place far from Whoville ("Lost in Whoville"). Jojo forgives the Cat in the Hat for his perceived offenses, taking his advice and trusting his hunches to lead him back home. He and his parents share a joyful embrace ("Havin' a Hunch").
At the Circus, Gertrude reappears and frees a bewildered Horton. She has swallowed her pride, got her tail feathers plucked, and flew across the world to rescue Horton the elephant and find the Whos' clover ("All for You"). Ecstatic that the Whos are finally safe, Horton begins to fall in love with Gertrude. However, their happiness is crushed as the Sour Kangaroo and the Wickersham Brothers drag Horton back to the Jungle of Nool, and put him on trial for the crimes of "talking to a speck of dust and loitering on an egg". Gertrude and Horton make a stand at the trial, but in vain; Yertle the Turtle orders the clover to be boiled in a kettle of beezlenut oil. Aghast, Horton begs the Whos to shout to prove their existence, which nearly fails until Jojo comes up with a "think": the word "Yopp!" whose peculiar sound is just enough to reach the jungle creatures' ears ("The People Versus Horton the Elephant"). The court acquits Horton and the Sour Kangaroo repents, swearing that she will help Horton protect the Whos. In Whoville, Jojo is honored as "Thinker Non-Stop" and finally wins the appreciation of his parents.
The egg hatches, and a tiny "Elephant-Bird" emerges. Horton panics, realizing he can't handle flying progeny, but Gertrude promises him that as Horton "teaches him land" she will "teach him sky". They agree to raise the child together ("Alone in the Universe" (Reprise)). The Cat in the Hat sums things up with "Oh, the Thinks You Can Think!" (Reprise) and "Green Eggs and Ham".
* = Lyrics by Lynn Ahrens and Dr. Seuss
^ = Not on Cast Recording
Songs in Seussical Jr.
Seussical requires a large orchestration with the original Broadway production having seventeen musicians. The instrumentation calls for two keyboard, bass, two guitars, drums, percussion, three woodwind players, two trumpets, trombone, and strings. The original Broadway production had a string quartet, but a fuller string section can be used. The first guitar part doubles on acoustic and electric guitar while the second guitar part doubles on acoustic and electric guitar as well as banjo. The first woodwind part doubles on piccolo, flute, clarinet, and soprano and alto sax; the second part doubles on oboe, clarinet, bass clarinet, and tenor sax; the third part doubles on flute, clarinet, bassoon, and baritone sax.
Major Castings Include
- The Cat in the Hat – The mischievous, imaginative, comedic narrator of the show. The Cat acts as a mentor to Jojo throughout the play. The Cat also plays several other characters in the story, including the Bailiff in "The People vs. Horton The Elephant," Jose the pool boy in "Mayzie in Palm Beach," Doctor Dake in "Amazing Gertrude," a piano player, an auctioneer, and others. Some productions have The Cat also play Yertle the Turtle, Vlad Vladikoff, and/or McGurkus. The Cat often breaks the Fourth Wall for comedic effect. The Cat can also be played by a girl in some productions especially th Jr. version. When The Cat is a girl instead of being Jose in Palm Beach the name is changed to Renee.
- Horton the Elephant – A thinker, the outsider, caring, gentle, main character. He tries to protect the Whos and care for the egg Mayzie leaves behind even though the animals think he is crazy. He and Gertrude become the parents of the elephant-bird.
- JoJo – A thinker, the child of The Mayor and Mrs. Mayor, gets into trouble for thinking. He and Horton bond over the fact that they are outcasts because of what they do (Horton protecting the Whos and Jojo's "thinks"). He is appreciated in the end.
- Gertrude McFuzz – The loyal bird-neighbor of Horton, she loves him but is shy due to having only one feather for a tail. Horton eventually falls for her and she becomes the mother of the elephant bird in the end.
- Mayzie LaBird – A vivacious and vain bird who tells Gertrude to take pills so her tail will grow longer, forcing Horton to love her (Gertrude). She is the mother of the elephant-bird Horton and Gertrude adopt but she abandons him and goes to Palm Beach.
- The Mayor of Whoville – The Mayor of Whoville and the father of JoJo.
- Mrs. Mayor – The Mayor's wife and mother of JoJo.
- Sour Kangaroo – The Leader of the Jungle that tells all that Horton is a fool for thinking there are people living on a dust speck. Also the mother of Young Kangaroo
- General Genghis Khan Schmitz – The General of the Academy, leads JoJo to war.
- The Bird Girls – A type of Greek chorus of birds that are Mayzie's friends. They often act as narrators when The Cat is absent.
- The Wickersham Brothers – Three mischievous monkeys who steal Horton's clover from him.
- Young Kangaroo – Sour Kangaroo's baby. Can be played by a puppet attached to the Sour Kangaroo's costume or a person. Does everything Sour Kangaroo does.
- Yertle the Turtle – The Judge of the Jungle during the scene "The People Versus Horton the Elephant".
- The Grinch – Tells his famous Christmas tale
- Vlad Vladikoff – Hired by the Sour Kangaroo to get rid of the Whos; steals the clover from Horton and drops it in a patch of clovers
- Cindy Lou Who – Listens to the Grinch's tale
- Max the Dog – Acts in the Grinch's tale
- Elephant Bird - A surprise character who hatches from Mayzie's egg but the child of Horton and Gertrude
- Hunches – Visual representations of Jojo's thoughts or hunches
- The Fish – The fish that Jojo imagines are in McElligot's Pool
- The Whos – An ensemble
- The Jungle Creatures – An ensemble
- The Hunters – They hunt and take Horton to the ship to the circus (sometimes doubled with the Wickersham Brothers)
- Circus Performers – These are the acts from "Circus McGurkus". They range from clowns to animals to gymnasts.
The Lorax and the Once-ler are the only characters to be removed from the show. They were in the first tryout of August 27, 2000. The Lorax had its own song and lines and its storyline from the book was also put in. The Lorax's part was after "Havin' A Hunch", where Jojo is left on his own after The Cat in The Hat leaves him. Then Jojo is surrounded by several black figures who tell him of the Lorax. Jojo talks to the Once-ler through a phone, first he has a croaky evil voice in a sort of hut, but then shouts and jumps out in green and white clothing with an Irish clover in the middle. He then begins to sing and dance in an energetic song.
Seussical Jr. removals
The entire Military subplot was removed to make the story fit to children more, which resulted in the General Genghis Khan Schmitz character being completely removed. Because of this, the songs "The Military", "Havin' A Hunch" and "Message from The Front" were also removed. Jojo remains a lead, but his role is shifted to an average boy sucked into the vortex in The Cat in the Hat's hat, and feels out of place throughout the rest of the story, thus explaining why he feels different.
Also, many songs were shortened or their reprises were cut. For example, "How Lucky You Are", the first version is not there, but the reprise is credited as the full song. Also, "The People Versus Horton the Elephant" is split into two parts.
All of the Grinch scenes are removed. Due to this removal, the characters of Max the Dog and Cindy Lou Who are removed. However, the Grinch still plays a small role.
Awards and nominations
Original Broadway production
|2001||Tony Award||Best Actor in a Musical||Kevin Chamberlin||Nominated|
|Drama Desk Award||Outstanding Actor in a Musical||Kevin Chamberlin||Nominated|
|Outstanding Featured Actress in a Musical||Janine LaManna||Nominated|
|Outstanding Music||Stephen Flaherty||Nominated|
Original Off-Broadway production
|2008||Lucille Lortel Award||Outstanding Revival||Nominated|
|Outstanding Choreography||Marcia Milgrom Dodge||Nominated|
|Outstanding Costume Design||Tracy Christensen||Nominated|
|Drama League Award||Outstanding Revival of a Musical||Nominated|
- TIME magazine reported in its May 26, 2008 issue, p. 51, that this musical ranked as the second most frequently produced musical by U.S. high schools in 2007.
- Jones, Kenneth and Lefkowitz, David. "Livent Hears a Who: Seussical Has Aug. 20–21 Workshops in Toronto" playbill.com, August 20, 1999
- Dezell, Maureen. "Bad Reviews May Have Helped 'Seussical' (article summary)" Boston Globe (Boston, MA) (highbeam.com), September 22, 2000
- "Production Credits". Internet Broadway Database. Retrieved 2008-03-10.
- Hinckley, David. "Rosie's 'Seussical' Roars O'Donnell the cat's meow as her 4-week run opens" New York Daily News, January 17, 2001
- "Seussical is a Charming Musical". TalkinBroadway.com. Retrieved 2008-03-10.
- "Rewritten and Ready, a New Touring Seussical Flies – Literally – Sept. 17 in Indy". Playbill. September 17, 2002. Retrieved 2008-03-10.
- "New Seussical Tour Launches Oct. 10 in a Town With a Name Worthy of Dr. Seuss: Yakima". Playbill. October 10, 2003. Retrieved 2008-03-10.
- Andrew Gans (16 July 2007). Lortel_July_16 "Free 90-Minute Seussical Begins Run at the Lucille Lortel July 16". Retrieved 25 November 2009.
- Greg Kalafatas (19 July 2007). "PHOTO CALL: Seussical Off-Broadway". Retrieved 25 November 2009.
- "The Stage". Newspaper. Retrieved 2012-10-01.
- http://www.whatsonstage.com/west-end-theatre/news/06-2013/seussical-returns-to-arts-theatre-this-christmas_30883.html. Retrieved 29 June 2013. Missing or empty
- Listing lortel.org, accessed July 25, 2010
|Wikiquote has a collection of quotations related to: Seussical|
- Seussical at the Internet Theatre Database
- Seussical at the Internet Broadway Database
- Seussical at the Music Theatre International website
- Seussical JR. at the Music Theatre International website
- Seussical: Theatre for Young Audiences Version at the Music Theatre International website
- Seussical Audition Advice and Show Information from MusicalTheatreAudition.net
- New York Times Article on the Theatre For Young Audiences version
- Seussical the Musical Lyrics