think and wonder and dream
far and wide as you dare"
Seussical is a 2000 Broadway musical based on the works of Dr. Seuss with music, lyrics, and book by Lynn Ahrens and Stephen Flaherty (of Schoolhouse Rock! and Ragtime fame). It draws a lot of its plot from Horton Hears a Who! and Horton Hatches the Egg but also includes characters and elements of The Cat in the Hat, How the Grinch Stole Christmas!, Green Eggs and Ham, and many other lesser-known works. Though its Broadway run was a notorious flop, it was drastically cleaned up and has become an extremely popular show with amateur/community theaters.
This musical provides examples of the following tropes:
- Adaptational Attractiveness: Mayzie was a relatively plain-looking bird in Horton Hatches the Egg. Here, she's a beautiful, flirtatious woman in a stunning red dress.
- Adaptational Heroism: Mayzie again. In the original book, she's an incredibly lazy and irresponsible parent and much more mean-spirited towards Horton when she comes back for her egg. In the musical she's more of The Ditz who, while still flawed, showcases she might have some self awareness about what a lousy parent she'd make and correctly assumes that her egg is better off in Horton's care than her's.
- Adapted Out: The Cat in the Hat's sidekicks, Thing One and Thing Two, do not appear in the original show (they are instead replaced by an ensemble of Cat in the Hats). They are, however, included in the revised script.
- An Aesop: There's the classic "a person's a person no matter how small" as well as a celebration of creative thinking and "thinkers" that runs as the undercurrent of the whole show. The Cat even begins the final number by asking the audience what they think happened after the story.
- Affably Evil: General Ghenghiz Khan Schmitz (who scares children out of their wits).
- All Musicals Are Adaptations
- Arc Welding: Arguably. It puts a lot of Dr. Seuss's many, many stories into a single continuous setting, and a good number of them figure into the main plot. See the Continuity Porn entry below.
- Arc Words: "Alone in the Universe."
- Ascended Extra: JoJo
- Beautiful All Along: Gertrude, although she comes to realize this herself, and for practical reasons as well.
- Big Bad Ensemble: The Sour Kangaroo for the Jungle of Nool and General Genghis Kahn Schmitz for Whoville, though Schmitz is the Big Bad from Jojo's perspective only. Regardless, both Schmitz and the Kangaroo pull HeelFace Turn 's by the end of the story.
- Breaking the Fourth Wall: The Cat regularly does this silently, but his last line before the final song is addressed right at the audience "And then guess what happened? Well? What do you think?"
- The Grinch (the show is set after the events of How the Grinch Stole Christmas!).
- Yertle the Turtle shows up as the judge at Horton's trial.
- Cassandra Truth: True to the original book, nobody in the Jungle of Nool believes Horton when he goes around claiming that a single speck of dust is actually a tiny, inhabited planet.
- Cliffhanger: The first act ends with the Cat literally dangling up in the air.
- Continuity Porn: Of Dr. Seuss's stories. The plot of the musical tries to mix as many of them into one coherent story, and takes a few liberties in order to do so, and has a somewhat complex structure as a result. However, a lot of them figure in as Shout Outs and are more or less insulated from the main plot, therefore remaining unchanged other than their setting. The Other Wiki has an impressive list of all the stories that cameo in the book.
- Crowd Song: "Oh, the Thinks You Can Think", among others.
- Dark Reprise:
- Of "Alone in the Universe".
- And later, "Solla Sollew," sung by the Mayor and his wife after the General tells them that Jojo might be dead.
- Demoted to Extra: The Grinch, one of the more popular Dr. Seuss characters, is a relatively minor character here.
- Determinator: Gertrude, as revealed in "All for You". Just to give you an idea, while looking for Horton, she: was shipwrecked; slogged through some swamp; was attacked by bees and dogs; trudged through snow in subzero conditions; tripped and fell off of a hill and landed on a jagged shoal (spraining her toe in the process) and was ran over. At some point during all this, she took seven weeks (almost two whole months) and found the clover with the speck of dust that holds the Whos' world. Keep in mind that this was in a field of clovers that were all identical. And she herself cannot hear the Whos and so had to just look for a speck, unlike Horton, who could listen for them.
- Disney Acid Sequence: "It's Possible," "Havin' a Hunch"
- Does This Remind You of Anything?: The popular Mayzie has a very large tail. Gertrude goes to medical means to get a larger tail that ends up being really impractical and getting in her way. Not to mention she has to take pills and her tail gets LONGER. Something Else Also Rises indeed. (Depending on the performance, it also sounds like she's getting breast implants.
- Drill Sergeant Nasty: While his rank is General, Genghis Khan Schmitz acts more like this archetype in his number.
- Earn Your Own Happy Ending: Horton goes through exile, mockery, a grueling search, sitting on an egg through a freezing winter, getting betrayed, getting sold to the circus, and watch his protected world risk being boiled alive, but ultimately the egg and whoville are saved.
- The Eleven O'Clock Number: "All For You".
- Exactly What It Says on the Tin: It's the works of Dr. Seuss as a musical.
- Expy: The Cat in the Hat is basically a benevolent version of the Leading Player from Pippin.
- Gender-Neutral Narrator: The Cat in the Hat has been played by both males and females.
- General Ripper: General Ghenghiz Khan Schmitz — although he gets a bit better later on.
- Girl Next Door: Gertrude
- Getting Crap Past the Radar:
- It's heavily implied that Mayzie's egg was the result of a one-night-stand with an owl.
- Not to mention the whole Magical Abortion of giving up the egg to Horton.
- Gertrude's wish to get a tail and Mayzie's speech about it sounds like it's a boob job. Not to mention the use of the word "tail" over and over again.
- Greek Chorus: The Cat in the Hat and the Bird Girls.
- "The Hero Sucks" Song: "Biggest Blame Fool (In The Jungle Of Nool)" mocks Horton for "talking to a speck of dust."
- "I Am" Song: "The One-Feathered Tail of Miss Gertrude McFuzz" tells us that Gertrude's in love with Horton and has wanted.
- Incoming Ham:
- "HUMPH! humphed a voice! 'Twas the Sour Kangaree-oo!"
- General Schmitz as well, who marches in on military fanfare and and announces himself at high volume "I'M GENERAL GENGHIS KHAN SCHMITZ!"
- To a slightly lesser extent, "'HA!' laughed a voice. 'HA!' laughed some others. 'HA! HA! HA!' laughed the Wickersham Brothers!"
- Incredibly Long Note: Schmitz, at the end of his song.
- Interspecies Romance: Horton and Gertrude, an elephant and bird.
- Irrelevant Act Opener:
- There's a short song at the top of Act II that just recaps the events of the first act. However, it could be subverted if you wait too long, because it cuts into "Egg, Nest, and Tree," which moves the plot forward at a mile a minute.
- The Entr'acte, as conducted by the Cat in the Hat, could be considered this as well.
- Kangaroo Court: Literally. the Sour Kangaroo all-but runs the trial.
- Lemony Narrator: The Cat in the Hat, who appears in various minor roles as well as occasionally explaining things for the audience.
- Massive Multiplayer Crossover: Of Dr. Seuss' books. And whatever improv the Cat decides to throw in.
- Mix-and-Match Critters: An elephant bird.
- Mr. Imagination: JoJo is established in the opening has having "quite a mind for [his] age," and it's implied he's thought the entire musical into existence. It also gets him in trouble, as his thinking leads to him flooding the bathroom and being sent off to war.
- Mood Whiplash:
- Twice, once by the Cat and once by Horton, as Who is being destroyed and as Horton is being attacked by Hunters, everything stops for a blase, cheery rendition of "How Lucky You Are".
- After Horton's sentence is pronounced solemnly by Judge Yertle, everyone perks up when discussing the horrible fate in store for "the dust speck".
- Moral Guardians: While the Sour Kangaroo isn't as much this as in the Horton Hears a Who! film adaptation, she still bases her accusations of Horton on the fact that "a mother like me should know".
- Names to Run Away from Really Fast: General Ghenghiz Khan Schmitz and "The Sour Kangaroo".
- Oblivious to Love: Horton, big time.
- Parental Bonus: Hell yes.
- Pet the Dog: General Schmitz is given one in Solla Sollew, where he joins in on singing about the mythical place for a line or so, depending on production. He also panics when Jojo is leaving because Schmitz was to horrible to him, because he realizes too late that Jojo is going into a minefield. When he thinks Jojo is dead he insists the boy is hero, instead of a deserter, and returns his sword and hat to his parents respectfully and with regret.
- Promoted to Love Interest: Gertrude McFuzz to Horton, who wasn't even in the same book as him.
- Sassy Black Woman: The Sour Kangaroo (at least in the original Broadway production).
- One line in "Biggest Blame Fool" is "Acting as if he's holding a jewel", referring to how dumb the other animals think Horton the elephant is by believing that a small speck of dust can talk, even though he's the only one who hears it. There was a movie called Magic Adventures of Mumfie which had an elephant who had to protect a magical jewel belonging to a queen.
- The line "Now I'm caught between a dust speck and an incubating egg" has the same melody as a portion of "Lovely Ladies" from Les Misérables.
- When the chorus sings "Sold" in "Egg, Nest, and Tree," the chords mirror, with some variation, the choral line singing "Well done, Judas/Good old Judas" in Jesus Christ Superstar.
- Single Woman Seeks Good Man: Gertrude's attraction to Horton is because he's friendly, loyal, and kind.
- "Somewhere" Song: "Solla Sollew," about the "faraway land" Horton and JoJo want to go to.
- Sound Off: Parodied with Schmitz's "Green Eggs and Ham" chant at the end of "The Military" (reprised at the Curtain Call).
- Stalker with a Crush: Gertrude.
- "They've Come So Far" Song: Seussical either has one such song, or has multiple songs that apply to different characters. "All for You" is one, relating the sheer hell Gertrude has gone through to get to Horton. However, everything mentioned in the song happened off stage.
- Villain Song:
- "The Military Academy" for Schmitz.
- And, if you include Mayzie as a villain, "Amayzing Mayzie".
- "Monkey Around" for the Wickersham Bros.
- "Biggest Blame Fool" for the Sour Kangaroo.
- You Are Not Alone:
Horton: You called my name and you set me free. One small voice in the universe...
- Both Horton and JoJo are feeling ostracized and lonely near the beginning of the show, then they manage to talk to each other and finally find the friend they've been looking for:
JoJo: One true friend in the universe...
Both: Who believes in me.
Horton: Just call my name...
- In the finale, there's a quick reprise of this with Horton and Gertrude:
Both: And I'll see you through...
Horton: One small voice in the universe...
Gertrude: One true friend in the universe...
Both: Who believes in you.