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Seussical the Musical

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Seussical the Musical, Cadillac Palace Theatre. You know you're in trouble when the funniest parts of a musical based on the verse of Dr. Seuss have nothing to do with the source. Gymnast-singer Cathy Rigby, star of this touring production, gets laughs by spraying viewers with liquid string, leaping into the laps of box-seat patrons, and spoofing those awful "Can you hear me now?" commercials. She also bursts into Peter Pan-style flight--a nod to her marvelous performance several years back in a much better family extravaganza.

Written by composer Stephen Flaherty and lyricist Lynn Ahrens, who conceived the show with Monty Python's Eric Idle, Seussical the Musical is a cluttered compendium of characters invented by children's author-illustrator Theodor Geisel (aka Dr. Seuss), including the Cat in the Hat (Rigby), Horton the egg-hatching elephant, scrawny-tailed Gertrude McFuzz, Yertle the Turtle, and the green-bearded Grinch in a cameo appearance. The effect recalls a Disney-style theme park populated by cartoon icons with nothing in common except their creator.

Especially in the current political climate, there's real value in a family show that advocates nonconformism, denigrates militaristic jingoism (embodied in General Genghis Kahn Schmitz), and preaches that a person's a person no matter how small, things could get worse (and probably will), so think how lucky you are. But despite such healthy wisdom, this is a lumbering, strangely joyless affair; you're better off staying home and reading the books.

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