Livent creative director (then-CEO) Garth Drabinsky announced April 16, 1997 that Livent acquired rights to the works of children's author Dr. Seuss to develop into a Broadway musical called The Seussical. At the time, Livent commissioned Ken Ludwig, author of the Tony-winning Broadway musical Crazy for You and the Broadway comedies Lend Me a Tenor and Moon Over Buffalo, to write the book.
Now the New York Times reports (June 12) Seussical has a different scribe in its tribe. Eric Idle, of the legendary Monty Python comedy troupe, will pen the book. Idle's not as odd a choice as you'd imagine. He made many musical contributions to Python ("I Like Chinese," "The Money Song," "Always Look On The Bright Side Of Life"), co-wrote the Beatles parody, "The Rutles," and even appeared in a television Mikado.
On Seussical, adding tunacy to Idle's lunacy will be the Tony-winning songwriters of Ragtime, lyricist Lynn Ahrens and composer Stephen Flaherty. Their previous credits include My Favorite Year, Lucky Stiff and Once On This Island. Ahrens is no stranger to writing songs for kids: many of the most memorable segments of TV's "Schoolhouse Rock" are on her resume, including "Interplanet Janet."
Drabinsky anticipates a public reading of Seussical Aug. 1999 at Livent's Summer Festival of New Works in Toronto, with a full production targeted for 2000. Other Livent shows include Show Boat, Kiss of the Spider Woman and the upcoming Fosse.
"Ted Geisel wrote 39 books under the pen name of Dr. Seuss and the theme of imagination being our greatest ally in getting through the ups and downs of life is a strong theme for a musical," Drabinsky said last year. He expected Suessical include some of Geisel's favorite characters, such as the Grinch, Horton the Elephant, The Sneetches and Sam I Am. The Cat in the Hat will be the show's guide into the world of Dr. Seuss. Audrey Geisel, widow of the writer (real name Theodore Geisel), was actively involved in arranging the rights with Livent.
Seussical is apparently unconnected with Anthony Horowitz and Glen Roven's musical adaptation of The 5,000 Fingers of Dr. T that received a NY reading back in March 1996.