The Cat in the Hat will sing on Broadway in October 2000, when partnering producers SFX Entertainment Inc. and Barry and Fran Weissler mount The Seussical.
The family-friendly Lynn Ahrens-Stephen Flaherty musical draws on characters and colors in children's verse books by Dr. Seuss and is expected to play an out-of-town tryout (thought to be at Pace venues in Toronto and Boston) before coming to New York for previews in September 2000.
The Seussical was workshopped in summer 1999 in Toronto, with director Frank Galati (Ragtime) overseeing comic actress Andrea Martin as The Cat in the Hat, singing the songs of lyricist Ahrens and composer Flaherty (who penned SFX-Pace's Ragtime).
Credits for the Seussical workshop had the show "conceived by Lynn Ahrens, Stephen Flaherty and Eric Idle," with book by Ahrens and Flaherty. Rehearsals begin in May 2000 for the summer out-of-town tryout. The Pantages Theatre in Toronto, vacated Oct. 31 by the long run of The Phantom of the Opera, is a likely spot for the Seuss show, and the creative team of Ragtime had a good experience with the national tour of Ragtime at Boston's Colonial Theatre.
There has been no official announcement about out of town venues, however. A cast has not been announced, but workshop participants are generally pursued when projects come to fruition.
Comic actress Martin played The Cat in the Hat in Livent/Pace/SFX Entertainment presentations of The Seussical, Aug. 19-21, 1999, in Toronto.
Livent founder Garth Drabinsky initiated the idea of the show, and was deposed in allegations of financial wrongdoing. The company was bought in 1999 by SFX, which got first crack at The Seussical.
The culmination of rehearsals in a workshop that began July 26 in the city where Livent hits Fosse, Show Boat and Ragtime were nurtured, the Toronto presentations let the producers see the progress, strengths and weaknesses of this original conception. Seussical draws on characters and wild worlds created by children's author Dr. Seuss, whose real name was Theodore Geisel.
One workshop insider told Playbill On-Line: "It's going to be a big surprise to a lot of people when they see it. You really don't have to know a lot about the Seuss books to enjoy it. It's quite an adult piece, even though kids will get a kick out of it. It's a real testament to the universality of Theodore Geisel's writing. And the score is really wild."
The workshop cast included American actors Jeffrey Broadhurst, Kevin Chamberlin, Joyce Chittick, Erick Devine, Jason Fuchs, Justin Greer, Jeffrey Hankinson, Ann Harada, Amy Heggins, Eddie Korbich, Catrice Joseph, Janine Lamanna, David Lowenstein, Michelle O'Steen, Michele Pawk, Alice Playten, Cynthia Sophiea, Sharon Wilkins, Eric Jordan Young, Stuart Zagnit and Canadian actors are Troy Adams, Diane Coatsworth, Heidi Ford, Susan Henley, Taborah Johnson, Denis Lupien, Avery Saltzman, and Jay Turvey.
Horton the Elephant and other creatures conjured by the late children's author Dr. Seuss are expected to be part of the family-friendly musical fantasia.
Martin, of Ahrens and Flaherty's My Favorite Year and television's "SCTV," took over the narrator Cat role from the show's co-conceiver, Eric Idle, who played the part in the May 14, 1999, New York City reading.
Galati, Ahrens and Flaherty have been busy this summer: They also oversaw the creation of the new, scaled-down Pace national tour of Ragtime, which began in Houston Aug. 3-15 (previews started July 31).
"New music" is central to Lynn Ahrens and Stephen Flaherty's Ragtime score, and new music from the Tony Award-winning lyricist and composer was heard in New York City May 14, 1999, when The Seussical got its first-draft readings.
The songwriting team, director Galati and invited guests, including Livent management, were on hand to see what collaborators Ahrens, Flaherty and co-conceiver Eric Idle cooked up using ingredients from the world of Dr. Seuss. Livent bought musical theatre rights to characters and some situations created by the late Geisel.
Rehearsals toward the two readings began May 3. These were considered the first reads of the first draft, with a fuller August 1999 workshop helmed by Galati (Ragtime, The Grapes of Wrath).
The company of 21 included Idle (an alum of "Monty Python's Flying Circus"), Janine LaManna (Ragtime, Chicago), Ruth Williamson (Little Me), Madeleine Doherty (Les Miserables), Victor Trent Cook (Smokey Joe's Cafe), Kevin Chamberlin (Ziegfeld Follies of 1936, My Favorite Year), Michelle Pawk (Cabaret), Erick Devine (Ragtime), Sharon Wilkins (The Life), Eric Jordan Young, David Garrison (Titanic, Over & Over), Ann Harada, Lovette George, Stuart Zagnit, Alice Playten (Spoils of War, Henry, Sweet Henry), Leon Williams, Jason Fuchs, Eddie Korbich (Show Boat, Assassins), Joy Hermalyn and David Lowenstein (1776).