The original cast album of Seussical, the musical, will be on store shelves Feb. 6, giving listeners the chance to judge for their own the Lynn Ahrens-Stephen Flaherty score, free from the negative reporting that has followed the Broadway musical since its Boston tryout in summer 2000.
The new Broadway musical at the Richard Rodgers Theatre seems to be an audience favorite and a critic's favorite target in the 2000-2001 season. An amalgam of stories and characters drawn from the works of children's lit writer and illustrator Dr. Seuss, the musical tells its many intersecting stories via R&B, rag, blues and pastiche show tune.
The show got an injection of new life Jan. 16 when TV talk show host Rosie O'Donnell stepped into the role of the Cat in the Hat. O'Donnell, a huge fan of the show, is taking over for the vacationing David Shiner through mid-February.
The new CD from Decca has 28 tracks on it, including the swingy "Green Eggs and Ham" curtain call, which was added to the show in New York, in previews.
In her first week with Seussical, Jan. 15-21, O'Donnell helped increase the box office $138,377 over the previous week, when Shiner wore the whiskers. Audience capacity was at 81.6 percent, an 18.2 percent increase. *
The Seuss tuner, with songs and libretto by Lynn Ahrens and Stephen Flaherty, opened at the Rodgers Nov. 30. Following the August tryout in Boston, where one critic was unfriendly, director Rob Marshall was brought in (in September) to reimagine some of original director Frank Galati's work. Galati returned to his home in Chicago at that point. O'Donnell has enthusiastically praised and celebrated the family-friendly show on her popular daytime talk program, "The Rosie O'Donnell Show." The company has performed numbers on the show several times. On Dec. 13, Kevin Chamberlin, who plays Horton the Elephant, was a "Rosie" guest and asked her if she would don the cat's hat during Shiner's vacation. She accepted the pre-planned invite.
O'Donnell, who moved from standup comedy to films to her syndicated, New York-based TV program, plays Seussical 8 PM Tuesday-Saturday and 2 PM Wednesday. Bryan Batt (late of Saturday Night Fever) will play matinees Saturday and Sunday. The schedule changes Feb. 14.
Along with Barry and Fran Weissler, the show's producers are SFX Theatrical Group and Universal Studios.
O'Donnell's stint ends Feb. 10. David Shiner is still expected back Feb 14, a spokesman said Feb. 5. Industry buzz, however, has the producers seeking out other star names for the show's future. For ticket information, call (212) 307-4100. The Richard Rodgers is at 226 W. 46th Street.