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Seussical the Musical

Seussical: The Musical is a broadway musical or operetta written by Lynn Ahrens and Stephen Flaherty. It was performed on Broadway in 2000, directed by Rob Marshall, and presented by the SFX Theater Group, Barry & Fran Weissler and Universal Studios. Its plot is based on the work of Dr. Seuss (Theodor Seuss Geisel).

In Seussical, the main character, a soft-hearted and selfless (to a fault) elephant named Horton, originally played by Kevin Chamberlin, discovers tiny world called Who, full of people called Whos, which floats through the air on a tiny speck of dust. He rescues them, saying “I’ll just have to save them because, after all, a person’s a person no matter how small.” This statement becomes his mantra and an overarching them throughout the musical. He discovers that on Who, there are very large and real problems, such as the threat of war, and the mayor’s son, JoJo, who thinks too many imaginative “thinks.” JoJo’s parents, in an attempt to bring him back to earth (or shall we say, back to Who?) send him off to the military.

Horton is then beset by troubles, as his fellow jungle citizens, who have a much narrower mindset than he, attempt to put Horton in his place by taking the clover on which Who rides and hiding it in a large field of clovers. Meanwhile, his neighbor Gertrude McFuzz, an insecure but determined and loyal bird, (with only a single feather for a tail) develops a fondness for Horton, and, believing that she is not good enough as she is, sets out to find a way to get Horton’s attention (“The One-Feather Tail of Miss Gertrude McFuzz”).

Enter Mayzie LaBird, a self-centered, fun-loving carouser, who turns heads wherever she goes. She lets Gertrude in on the secret of her fabulous tail in a song full of peppy Latin beat (“Amayzing Mayzie”). So Gertrude goes to the Doctor and gets some pills which cause her tail to grow extremely long. She attempts to catch Horton’s eye, but he’s rather preoccupied with searching for his Whos (“Notice Me Horton”).

Horton has just nearly given up on his search when Mayzie arrives on the scene again. Her escapades have left her with an egg, and she persuades Horton to sit on it for her while she takes a vacation, which turns into weeks and months. Horton is taken away and sold to a circus, still on his egg, leaving him powerless to help the Whos. Mayzie hears about the circus, but when she visits, cannot be persuaded to take back her egg. Horton is miserable, as are the Whos, abandoned on their clover.

Gertrude, realizing her mistake when she tries unsuccessfully to fly with her gigantic tail, get rid of it, finds the clover, and searches for Horton. She finally finds him, and he realizes all of what she’s gone through to help him, culminating with recovering his beloved clover. Then the jungle citizens put him on trial and just as they are about to boil the precious dust speck, JoJo comes through with a think that saves them all. It’s a happy ending for everyone when Gertrude declares that she will help Horton take care of the new baby, an elephant-bird, that has hatched from Mayzie’s egg.
I liked this musical because of the interesting music, the good moral standards, the personalities of the characters, and the catchy tunes.

The music is very adaptable, ranging from gentle and almost orchestral (“Solla Sollew”), to swing, to funky Latin beats, depending on the situation. The lyrics are in part taken from Seuss’s work, such as the story of Miss Gertrude McFuzz in Yertle the Turtle and Other Stories, and the rest of it is very Seussian to the point where it is difficult to tell where Seuss ends and Ahrens begins.

The theme is a wholesome one of kindness and caring for others, not thinking solely of oneself. Imagination is to be encouraged and open mindedness are highly praised in this kid-friendly musical. Other morals include the lesson of Gertrude’s attempts to be someone she isn’t, which do not end in getting what she wants. Instead, when she sheds the tail and becomes herself again, she is noticed and appreciated for who she is.

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