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Broadway Series South Preview: Seussical the Musical Brings to Life The Wonderful, Wacky World of Dr. Seuss

December 29, 2003 - Raleigh, NC:


The second National Tour of Seussical the Musical, produced by NETworks Presentations and directed by Stafford Arima, will play four performances at Raleigh Memorial Auditorium Dec. 30-Jan. 1 as a special presentation of Broadway Series South. Seussical brings to life the wild and crazy and wonderful world of Dr. Seuss, where a whole world can exist on a speck of dust, a bird can grow its tail so long that it cannot fly, and a kid can dream impossible dreams that still can come true.

Dr. Seuss (the pen name of Theodor Seuss Geisel, 1904-91) is the award-winning author of a series of ingenious, utterly charming, and perennially popular children's books. What mid-to-late 20th-century childhood was complete without (repeated) bedside and elementary-school readings of Horton Hears a Who (1954), The Cat in the Hat (1957), How the Grinch Stole Christmas (1957), and Green Eggs and Ham (1960)?

Writing as Dr. Seuss, Geisel published more than 50 books, which sold more than 100 million copies all told. He won a Pulitzer Prize, three Oscars, two Emmys, and two Peabody Awards for his fanciful stories told in rhyme.

Seussical, which debuted on Broadway on November 30, 2000 and ran for 198 performances, features a book by the award-winning team of lyricist Lynn Ahrens and composer Stephen Flaherty (Ragtime and Once on This Island), plus Eric Idle of Monty Python fame. This year, Ahrens and Flaherty celebrated their 20th anniversary as collaborators. They won the 1998 Tony Award® for Best Score for Ragtime, earned two Grammy® nominations for recordings of Ragtime, a third Grammy nomination two years later for the original cast album of Seussical, and two 1998 Academy Award® nominations and two 1998 Golden Globe nominations for their work on Anastasia, the first full-length animated feature film from Twentieth Century Fox.

According to the musical's online FAQ (Frequently Asked Questions document), "Seussical creates the witty, wild and whimsical world of Dr. Seuss as it has never been seen before as a Broadway musical. Seussical is a contemporary re-imagining of Dr. Seuss, which weaves together many of his most famous stories and characters in unexpected ways. When chaos erupts in the Jungle of Nool, it will take the Cat in the Hat, Horton the Elephant, Gertrude McFuzz, and a gaggle of characters to bring harmony back to their world."

The Grammy-nominated score for Seussical mixes a variety of song styles, including pop, blues, gospel, salsa, jazz, and rhythm and blues. Its most memorable musical numbers include "Oh, The Thinks You Can Think"; "It's Possible"; "Alone in the Universe"; and "How Lucky You Are."

Stafford Arima, who served as associate director for the original Broadway production of Seussical, will direct the second National Tour, which stars Peter Roman as The Cat in the Hat, Randall Frizado as Horton the Elephant, Heather Barr as Gertrude McFuzz, Dawn Lebrecht as Mayzie Labird, and 10-year-old Gene Biscontini as JoJo. The show also features clever choreography by Patti Wilcox, superlative storybook sets by James Kronzer, lovely lighting by Kirk Bookman, and stylish Seussian costumes by North Carolina's own William Ivey Long, who created the costumes for Seussical's Broadway debut.

Peter Roman is a veteran of number of New York productions, but this is his first National Tour. Randall Frizado performed in the National Tours of Barry Manilow's Copacabana, Big River, and Bye-Bye Birdie (starring Troy Donohue). Heather Barr toured nationally in Peter Pan, Schoolhouse Rock Live!, and Cinderella. Dawn Lebrecht performed in the National Tours of 42nd Street, Anything, and Grease. And Gene Biscontini has performed Off Broadway in People Garden, Hand in Hand, Nutcracker, and Cinderella.

The Houston Chronicle says Seussical "abounds with invention and visual surprises! Horton hears a hit!" Liz Smith of the New York Post agrees: "Not since 'The Lion King' has one been so dazzled!"

"It's a charmer," writes the San Antonio Express-News, "filled with visual delights and terrific performances. A captivating show that shouldn't be missed." The Indianapolis Sun calls Seussical "clever, colorful, tuneful and full of heart! Dr. Seuss comes through again!"

Second Opinion: Raleigh, NC News & Observer staff writer Orla Swift's preview: http://newsobserver.com/features/story/3153669p-2850094c.html [inactive 4/04] .

Broadway Series South presents Seussical the Musical Tuesday, Dec. 30, at 8 p.m.; Wednesday, Dec. 31, at 2 and 8 p.m.; and Thursday, Jan. 1, at 2 p.m. in Raleigh Memorial Auditorium in the BTI Center for the Performing Arts, 1 E. South St., Raleigh, North Carolina. $16-$41. Ticketmaster: 919/834-4000 or http://www.ticketmaster.com/venueartist/115203/804288. Group Sales: 919/231-4575 or http://www.priorityseating.net/. Broadway Series South: http://www.broadwayseriessouth.com/2003-2004/specials.html#seussical. Internet Broadway Database: http://www.ibdb.com/production.asp?ID=12571. Seussical the Musical: http://www.seussical.com/. Seussical the Musical Study Guide: http://www.seussical.com/studyguide.pdf. Dr. Seuss: http://www.seussville.com/seussville/. In Rhythm and Rhyme: The Ahrens and Flaherty Website: http://www.ahrensandflaherty.com/.