Richard Rodgers Theatre - January 2001

Review by John Kenrick

(With apologies to Dr. Seuss)

Both critics and theatre folk
long have been crying
that the great Broadway musical's
slowly been dying.
Well, this is the season
when it can be said
the musical's no longer dying '
it's dead.
It's bad enough all the
new shows are pure pap '
What's fatal is audiences
now cheer for crap.
Full Monty's a funny book
with a non-score,
Jane Eyre is a well dressed but
unending bore,
and Seussical is so completely synthetic
it's not merely bad '
it's truly pathetic.
The book combines Seuss tales '
well, really just two '
about Horton the elephant
with heart so true
that he hatches an egg
and protects the Who's too.

Because the show desp'rately
needed more buzz,
they throw in Seuss fav'rites
like Gertrude McFuzz,
Yertle the Turtle,
and heck, in a pinch,
to rip off the hit film,
they throw in the Grinch.
(He serves no plot function,
but for laughs he's a cinch!)
The Cat in the Hat's there to
narrate the action,
but even he can't get
this mess out of traction.

Lynn Ahrens and Steve Flaherty,
The fine Ragtime team
Can't get very far on the
wheels of this dream.
Some tunes are quite catchy,
and no one will slumber
through "Thinks You Can Think,"
the swell opening number.
But most of the score
is generic and loose,
with none of the witty rhymes
one finds in Seuss.
There's a cute curtain tune
based on "Green Eggs and Ham,"
but it's brought in so late
that it can't help a damn.

The cast does its best
as they scamper and mug.
Kevin Chamberlin's Horton is
Such a sweet lug
You just want to grab him
And give him a hug.
As Gertrude, Miss Jannine
LaManna's de-lish,
Michele Pawk as Mayzie
is still quite a dish,
and A.B. Hall's Jojo
is all one could wish.
But one key performance
that's fatally flat
is poor David Shiner
as Cat in the Hat.
This role needs a star
who can act, sing and dance.
Shiner can't do all three,
so he hasn't a chance.
Maybe Joel Grey or
Kevin Kline could've got by,
but there's simply no hope
for this poor Shiner guy.
(Even Rosie O'Donnell
won't make this thing fly!)

By now I suppose
ev'ry theatre buff knows
of Seussical's nightmarish pre-Broadway woes,
So who can say where the blame for it goes?
Those named in the Playbill?
Don't lock them in basements '
They share this disaster
With unnamed replacements.
The costumes and sets are so ugly ' be cautious!
A stage full of oobleck
would leave you less nauseous.
They don't look like Seuss books,
not even in part.
But worse than the look '
they all lack the Seuss heart.
When folks look back on
Seussical, one fact will gall '
This show's heart from the start
was two sizes two small.

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