Cathy Rigby is in negotiations to play The Cat in the Hat in Seussical, the family-friendly Broadway musical whose business has not been booming despite a recent box office jolt from the monthlong appearance of Rosie O'Donnell in the feline role.
Rigby sightings and internet chat room gossip preceded a confirmation from production sources that Tony Award-winner Rigby is talking to the producers about stepping into the narrator role.
As of March 1, a spokesperson for the show said the casting of Rigby has not been confirmed. Producers Barry and Fran Weissler (who co-produced the tuner with SFX Theatricals and Universal Studios) have previously said they are seeking stars for the starless show — not only the Cat role, but in supporting roles.
If Rigby does take on the role, she would bring her considerable acrobatic and dance skills to the project. The former Olympic gymnast has been a smash on Broadway and tour in the musical, Peter Pan, which asked her to sing, dance, fly, tumble and act her way through a musical fantasia suitable for audiences. Industry observers wonder if she will be a box office draw without her famous wire attached (unless, of course, flying is incorporated into the show, as some more creative observers have suggested).
Production sources say producers are apparently still holding out hope that Rosie O'Donnell will make good on her public wish to return to the show in April or May, taking the show into the Tony Award nomination period of May and June. *
Following a month's vacation, David Shiner, the show's original Cat in the Hat, returned to the Broadway company of Seussical, Feb. 14. After a Wednesday morning brushup rehearsal with the company, Shiner, the critically acclaimed mime and movement artist last seen on Broadway in Fool Moon, re-joined the fantastical musical at the Valentine's Day matinee. Since Jan. 16, actress and TV personality Rosie O'Donnell played the Cat six shows per week, pumping life into the show's anemic Richard Rodgers Theatre box office. Her final performance was Feb. 10.
Shiner created the role in fall 2000, narrating and hosting Lynn Ahrens and Stephen Flaherty's somewhat expressionistic tuner drawn from the characters and worlds created by Dr. Seuss. Feb. 14 marked a new performance schedule for Seussical: Mondays and Tuesdays are now dark, two shows are presented Wednesdays, one show Thursdays and Fridays and two shows go up Saturdays and Sundays.
Lyricist Lynn Ahrens and composer Stephen Flaherty co-wrote the show's book, Frank Galati is credited with direction (though Rob Marshall came in as the show doctor) and Kathleen Marshall is choreographer. The show opened Nov. 30, 2000; a cast album on the Decca Broadway label was released Feb. 6 (with Shiner as The Cat, of course).
The cast includes Janine LaManna as Gertrude McFuzz, Kevin Chamberlin as Horton the elephant, Michele Pawk as Mayzie La Bird, Anthony Blair Hall as Jo Jo). Also featured are Erick Devine (Ragtime), Alice Playten (Oliver!), Sharon Wilkins (The Life) and Stuart Zagnit (the Public's Wild Party). Also appearing are Shaun Amyot, Joyce Chittick (Cabaret), Jennifer Cody (MTC Wild Party), Natascia Diaz (Bright Lights, Big City), David Engel (Forever Plaid), Sarah Gettelfinger, Justin Greer (Annie Get Your Gun), Ann Harada (The Moment When), Jenny Hill, Catrice Joseph, Michelle Kittrell, Mary Ann Lamb (Fosse, Chicago), Darren Lee (Kiss Me, Kate), David Lowenstein, Monique Midgette, Casey Nicholaw (Saturday Night Fever), Tom Plotkin (Footloose), Devin Richards (Jesus Christ Superstar), William Ryall (Grand Hotel), Jerome Vivona (Kiss Me, Kate) and Eric Jordan Young (Ragtime). Bryan Batt (Saturday Night Live) is Shiner's standby.
Designers are Eugene Lee (set), William Ivey Long (costumes), Natasha Katz (lighting), Jonathan Deans (sound). Tony Walton also assisted with design duties when the show was in previews. David Holcenberg is music director, David Chase is dance arranger, Doug Besterman is orchestrator. Flaherty is vocal arranger.
For ticket information, call (212) 307-4100.