ABOUT THE MUSICAL

Seussical is a musical by Lynn Ahrens and Stephen Flaherty based on the books of Dr. Seuss (mainly "Horton Hears a Who!", "Horton Hatches the Egg" and "Miss Gertrude McFuzz") that debuted on Broadway in 2000. The play's story is a rather complex amalgamation of many of Seuss's most famous books. After opening on Broadway in 2000, the production spawned two US national tours and a UK tour.  

Now one of the most performed shows in America, Seussical is a fantastical, magical, musical extravaganza!

 

 

SYNOPSIS:

Tony winners, Lynn Ahrens and Stephen Flaherty (Lucky Stiff, My Favorite Year, Once on This Island, Ragtime), have lovingly brought to life all of our favorite Dr. Seuss characters, including Horton the Elephant, The Cat in the Hat, Gertrude McFuzz, lazy Mayzie and a little boy with a big imagination – Jojo. The colorful characters transport us from the Jungle of Nool to the Circus McGurkus to the invisible world of the Whos.

The Cat in the Hat tells the story of Horton, an elephant who discovers a speck of dust that contains the Whos, including Jojo, a Who child sent off to military school for thinking too many "thinks." Horton faces a double challenge: not only must he protect the Whos from a world of naysayers and dangers, but he must guard an abandoned egg, left in his care by the irresponsible Mayzie La Bird.

Although Horton faces ridicule, danger, kidnapping and a trial, the intrepid Gertrude McFuzz never loses faith in him. Ultimately, the powers of friendship, loyalty, family and community are challenged and emerge triumphant.

Seussical is fun for the whole family!

Performers of all ages will be excited to portray the characters from the familiar Dr. Seuss fables.

This musical provides wonderful creative opportunities for set, lighting and costume design. 


 

CASTING: 

Character Breakdown

THE CAT IN THE HAT

The Cat In The Hat is the essence of mischief, fun, and imagination. The Cat stirs things up, causes trouble, but always sets things right again, helping Jojo to discover the power of his own imagination as they create the story for the show together. Look for a physically adept actor (male or female) to play The Cat, one who will be able to play many comic cameos and is comfortable improvising with an audience. The Cat does not need to be your strongest singer, but should still have good rhythm and timing.

Gender: Both

Vocal range top: D6

Vocal range bottom: Bb4

JOJO

Jojo is a "Thinker", a smart child with a wild imagination. He can be played as being a little bit awkward, a little bit of a loner, or simply a rambunctious kid whose Thinks get him into constant trouble. By the end of the show, he learns what it means to be a responsible member of his world, using the power and possibilities of his own Thinks. He should be one of your stronger singers.

Gender: Male

Vocal range top: D6

Vocal range bottom: Ab4

HORTON THE ELEPHANT

Horton The Elephant is a gentle giant. Think of him as a big-hearted blue-collar guy who is steadfast, responsible and always tries to do the right thing for his friends. He is imaginative and receptive to the world around him. He is very unselfconscious. Horton's view of the world never changes - he believes in its goodness. By the end of the show, without even realizing it, he is ready to become a parent.

Gender: Male

Vocal range top: E6

Vocal range bottom: A4

GERTRUDE MCFUZZ

Gertrude Mcfuzz is very self-conscious and aware that her one-feather tail isn't perfect. Gertrude changes during the show from a neurotic, nervous and shy bird into one with the power to protect and care for a baby elephant bird and commit herself to Horton. In other words, she stops worrying about her looks and grows up.

Gender: Female

Vocal range top: Eb5

Vocal range bottom: F3

MAYZIE LA BIRD

Mayzie La Bird is self-centered, selfish, and vain. Mayzie will never admit to her own flaws. She manipulates anyone she can into doing what she wants. But Mayzie isn't all bad. In giving up her egg to Horton once and for all, she has a moment of generosity-she realizes she isn't the kind of person who would be a good parent, and she does the best thing she can for the egg.

Gender: Female

Vocal range top: E5

Vocal range bottom: G#3

SOUR KANGAROO

Sour Kangaroo isn't really sour at all. She's just got a lot of attitude. She's loud, brassy, and a lot of fun.

Gender: Female

Vocal range top: Eb5

Vocal range bottom: A3

THE WICKERSHAM BROTHERS

The Wickersham Brothers are not bad guys! They're simply a lot like kids who tease, play pranks, and get a kick out of making mischief, although often at others' expense. They enjoy hanging around with one another, making music together on the street corner, and playing off one another. Encourage each of your actors to find their own Wickersham persona.

Gender: Male

Vocal range top: G6

Vocal range bottom: A4

THE WHOS

The Whos are a lot like you and me, only so small as to be invisible. Don't think of them as weird little aliens. They should be played for their inherent humanity. Encourage everyone playing a Who to try and create his or her own unique character.

Gender: Both

Vocal range top: D#5

Vocal range bottom: G3

MR. MAYOR

Mr. and Mrs. Mayor are Whos who are parents trying hard to raise a difficult child in a difficult world. They may get aggravated with Jojo, but they love him dearly and try to do the right thing, even if it turns out to be a mistake.

Gender: Male

Vocal range top: A6

Vocal range bottom: C5

MRS. MAYOR

Mr. and Mrs. Mayor are Whos who are parents trying hard to raise a difficult child in a difficult world. They may get aggravated with Jojo, but they love him dearly and try to do the right thing, even if it turns out to be a mistake.

Gender: Female

Vocal range top: D5

Vocal range bottom: A3

JUNGLE CREATURES

The Jungle Creatures are real people at heart, just like us, even though they may be described as animal characters. We discourage masks and literal "animal costumes." Each student should be encouraged to create his or her own individual character with human characteristics.

Gender: Both

Vocal range top: Db5

Vocal range bottom: A3

THE GRINCH

One of three great smaller character roles that can be played by some of your featured chorus members.

Gender: Both

YERTLE THE TURTLE

One of three great smaller character roles that can be played by some of your featured chorus members.

Gender: Both

VLAD VLADICOFF

One of three great smaller character roles that can be played by some of your featured chorus members.

Gender: Both

ADDITIONAL FACTS

SHOW HISTORY

 

Inspiration

 

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" – acting variously as a narrator, an outside observer, and a devil's advocate throughout the show, and briefly leaping into the action on several occasions to create conflict and keep the story moving.

Productions

 

In the initial 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. Direction was by Frank Galati with choreography by Kathleen Marshall.  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 Kahn Schmitz also appearing. Throughout the run, there were many celebrity Cat in the Hat replacements, including Rosie O'Donnell  nd Cathy Rigby.

The script for the first tour was extensively changed from the story presented on Broadway, with 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.

Trivia

  • To support himself and his wife during the Great Depression, Seuss made money drawing cartoons for advertisements. He became a household name for his cartoons for an insecticide called Flit by coining the catchphrase “Quick, Henry, the Flit!” During his advertising career, Seuss drew cartoons for General Electric, NBC, Standard Oil, Narragansett Brewing Company and more. He also drew a short-lived Sunday comic strip called ‘Hejji.’

  • Dr. Seuss' real name is Theodor Geisel.  

  • Seuss was not a doctor of anything and in fact did not have a doctorate until an honorary one was granted to him by his alma mater, Dartmouth, in 1956. He added the “Dr.” to his penname because his father had always wanted him to practice medicine.

  • While the name Seuss (Theodor's mother’s maiden name) was always his, between his first and last names, he didn’t use it until he was in college. He began using it as a penname when he was caught with gin in his dorm room and was asked to step down as editor of Dartmouth’s humor magazine. To continue working on the magazine, he used Seuss instead. The correct pronunciation of the name rhymed with “voice” rather than “goose,” but Seuss eventually gave in to the popular pronunciation.

  • Even though kids are fans of his work, the king of children’s books didn’t think much of kids. He is reported to have once said, “You have ‘em, I’ll amuse ‘em.” His widow Audrey even went so far as to say Seuss was afraid of children. She said he was always thinking, “What might they do next? What might they ask next?” She added, “He couldn’t just sit down on the floor and play with them.”

  • Seuss’ first book ‘And to Think I Saw It on Mulberry Street,’ which was inspired by the rhythm of the ship’s engines on a return trip from Europe, was rejected by 27 publishers. He almost burned it, but finally found a publisher for it in 1937. The title comes from the name of the street on which his grandmother lived.

  • ‘The Cat in the Hat’ resulted from a theory Seuss had that the ‘Dick and Jane’ children’s books were so boring, reading levels were down in schools because kids refused to read them. To fix this, a director at Houghton Mifflin sent Seuss a list of about 350 words kids should know and then challenged him to write a book kids couldn’t put down with only 250 of those words in it. In the end, the book uses 220 of the words most used by children.

  • "Green Eggs and Ham" used only fifty words and was published in 1960. Dr. Seuss' publisher, Bennett Cerf, bet Seuss $50 that he wouldn't be able to write a book with a vocabulary of only fifty words in it. After "Green Eggs and Ham" was published, Cerf never paid Seuss the money he won in the bet.

  • Dr. Seuss has an even bigger impact on pop culture than you might think. The first recorded instance of the word “nerd” is in Seuss’ ‘If I Ran the Zoo’ published in 1950.

  • Not only was Seuss a Pulitzer-prize winning author, he won two Academy Awards. He won his first Oscar for writing an animated short called ‘Gerald McBoing-Boing’ in 1951. He also won an Academy Award for a documentary called ‘Design for Death’ about Japanese culture.

  • Like many of Seuss’ books, ‘Horton Hears a Who’ was not just about an elephant hearing tiny voices, but an allegory for America’s treatment of post-war Japan. The small country needed the support of a large country to get back on its feet after the devastation of WWII, and Seuss wrote about Horton’s plight with the Who after a trip to war torn Hiroshima. The book was dedicated to a friend of his in Japan.

  • After some speculation, Seuss admitted that he did base the story of ‘Yertle the Turtle’ on Hitler. (The power-hungry turtle was a direct representation of the dictator. )But that wasn’t the big controversy of the book. What ended up being controversial was the burp a turtle lets out at the end. That had never happened in a children’s book before and the publisher argued for Seuss to take it out.

  • "The Lorax" was written while Dr. Seuss was visiting Africa. He wrote the book in forty-five minutes while watching the African animals walking around. "The Lorax" was about loggers cutting down trees. A town in California tried to have the book banned from their libraries and bookstores because most parents were loggers and they didn't want their children told that cutting down trees was wrong.  In the pre-Broadway tryout of Seussical, there was a song about The Lorax late in the second act.

  • Seuss’ rare ‘The Butter Battle Book,’ published in 1984, actually dealt with the nuclear arms race. It was pulled from the shelves after six months because of its underlying references to the Cold War and the arms race then taking place between Russia and the United States.

  • The most popular book in the Dr. Seuss collection, ‘Oh the Places You’ll Go,’ was meant to be read in utero. Seuss wrote it to introduce a child-to-be to all the Seuss characters. Coincidentally, it’s now his best-selling book because so many people regularly give it as a graduation gift.
     

 

Other Resources

 

We highly recommend that you watch the entire show.  Here is a production on Youtube we feel was done well. 

© 2017 by Academy for Children's Theatre
 

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