Everybody has Dr. Seuss-based memories—Bartholomew Cubbins, the South-Going Zaks, the beetle battle in a bottle on a poodle eating noodles. Chances are you devoured the books these characters come from again and again—skimming, lingering, crayoning over them and generally wearing down their pages with frequent turning. Then there are the stories they show on TV every year—“The Cat in the Hat,” “Horton Hears a Who,” “The Grinch Who Stole Christmas,” “The Lorax”—masterful cartoons whose every detail old Theodore Geisel oversaw, and not just the drawing style and animation, but the tunes and orchestral arrangements and casting of the voice actors. Each work had his stamp and delivered the authentic Seuss experience.
“Seussical the Musical” has also been created with the kind of madcap care that made the original works so much fun. Stephen and Lynn Ahrens, with a little help from Monty Python’s Eric Idle, have created a vibrant show, not only great for kids, but surprisingly moving for adults as well. The music outshines any “kids’ show” in recent memory—cribbing from a gazillion musical genres—surf music and Dixieland and 70s funkadelics and Motown girl groups—all jostling and jiving with each other in a way that would make the Cat in the Hat proud.
The Ahrens’s have ingeniously interwoven the “Horton” books with a number of other beloved storylines, sending in most of your favorite characters—the Cat, played by Mace Sorensen; Yertle the Turtle, played by Chris Osmers; General Genghis Khan Schmitz, played by Zach Kopciak; the Grinch, played by Chris DuGuay; Gertrude McFuzz, played by Liney Pugh; and Mayzie LaBird, played by Kelsey Carroll—as principals or cameos. The result isn’t fractured or episodic, but an integrated and whole story, with high stakes and an edge-of-your-seat climax.