Bway-Bound 5,000 Fingers of Dr. T Flexing in Pre-Production

News   Bway-Bound 5,000 Fingers of Dr. T Flexing in Pre-Production Seussical is already just a Broadway memory, but Broadway may not have seen the last of Dr. Seuss. As first reported in August 2000, a musical adaptation of the 1953 fantasy film, "The 5,000 Fingers of Dr. T," is in the works, with Simon Callow directing and Quinny Sacks, a West End and international ballet veteran, choreographing. David Fielding is the set and costume designer. Pat Collins is doing lighting, and Jonathan Deans will do sound design.

Seussical is already just a Broadway memory, but Broadway may not have seen the last of Dr. Seuss. As first reported in August 2000, a musical adaptation of the 1953 fantasy film, "The 5,000 Fingers of Dr. T," is in the works, with Simon Callow directing and Quinny Sacks, a West End and international ballet veteran, choreographing. David Fielding is the set and costume designer. Pat Collins is doing lighting, and Jonathan Deans will do sound design.

Reached June 25, general manager Frank Scardino told Playbill On-Line the project was moving forward with an eye toward getting the piece on its feet by spring 2002. Johnson-Liff will serve as casting directors for the show, to be produced by Dr. T LLC (I.e., Brian Brolly and Michael Jenkins, the latter of Dallas Summer Musicals note).

Composer-lyricist Glen Roven, an Emmy Award with a long career as a musical director and conductor as well as composer for theatre, film and television, including five major Walt Disney programs, has penned the music and lyrics, with Anthony Horowitz writing the book, based on Theodore Geisel's screenplay.

Initially, rehearsals for Dr. T were to start in New York this month, with an out-of-town tryout due in September and a Broadway run in the late fall. It now appears those dates will be pushed a half-year to a year forward, though further information is anticipated from spokespersons by mid-summer.

* Asked about the Seuss synergy, general manager Scardino told Playbill On Line Aug. 16, 2000, that Dr. T "is a different kind of show from Seussical. Seussical takes bits and pieces from the source material, whereas Dr. T is very much based on the motion picture written by Theodore Geisel, and it has more human characters than other Seuss stories."

5,000 Fingers of Dr. T tells of a young boy who grudgingly takes piano lessons from Dr. Terwilliker. The youth fantasizes that the evil Dr. T "enlists 500 children to play the concerto he's written on the world's biggest piano," said Scardino. "Dr. T enrolls them in a huge music institute, and the boy tries to defeat his evil plan." In a subplot, "the boy's mom is single parent, and Dr. T. tries to romance his mother. But it's the friendly plumber from next door who's the hero who ends up with the mother and the boy."

Asked whether a musical involving all those children and an enormous piano might be unwieldy to produce, GM Scardino said, "The plan is to have children playing children, and there will be several children in the cast. We haven't capitalized yet, but we're expecting it to be in the usual range for a Broadway musical these days, $7-$10 million. It's not a mega- musical but not small either." The book and score are finished.

Director Callow did a solo run in London's West End in a one-man play about Charles Dickens, written by biographer Peter Ackroyd. He's also soloed in The Importance of Being Oscar, a celebration of Oscar Wilde. Other stage credits include The Chimes at Midnight at Chichester Festival Theatre. More recently, he directed a poorly-received revival of the 1950s musical, The Pajama Game, starring Leslie Ash and John Hegley in the West End. Callow's film acting credits include "Shakespeare in Love," "Four Weddings and a Funeral," "Howard's End" and "A Room with a View."

- By David Lefkowitz