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Tuesday, June 16, 1998 Published at 19:08 GMT 20:08 UK


The Idle world of Seuss

Copyright and Trademark 1995, 1998 Dr Seuss Enterprises

If eccentricity and surrealism were to come together on stage, who better to ask for a storyline than Dr Seuss, the creator of many weird and fantastical children's books, and Eric Idle, of the zany Monty Python comedy gang.

This is the plan for "The Seussical", a new musical production based on the collective works of Dr Seuss. Idle will be part of the creative team working on the show, as well as writing the book to accompany the stage version.

[ image: Copyright and Trademark 1995, 1998 Dr Seuss Enterprises]
Copyright and Trademark 1995, 1998 Dr Seuss Enterprises
The musical's producer, Garth Drabinsky, explains why Idle is an ideal choice: "With Eric joining this powerful, collaborative team, we can create the exuberance, wonder and thoughtfulness that audiences expect from the Dr Seuss universe of characters."

"The Seussical" will include many of the best known characters from the books of Dr Seuss, for example, the Grinch, Horton the Elephant, Yertle the Turtle, the Sneetches, Sam-I-Am and the Cat in the Hat. It will be made by the Canadian theatre company, Livent, responsible for this year's award-winning Broadway musical "Ragtime", and production is expected to begin in the year 2000.

The creative team

Idle, it is hoped, will also preserve the quirkiness well-known in the characters in the Dr Seuss books. He is no stranger to creating peculiar personages, having spent a good part of his career in Britain's most infamous and alternative comedy troupe.

[ image: Eric Idle meets a Viking in one famous Monty Python sketch]
Eric Idle meets a Viking in one famous Monty Python sketch
The Monty Python television series, with its irreverent and surreal skits co-written by Idle, was a roaring success in the early 1970s and is still a cult classic today. One of Idle's most memorable roles was in the film "Monty Python's Life of Brian", as a victim of crucifixion who sings the hilarious "Always look on the Bright Side of Life."

Idle has since written extensively for television and radio in both Britain and the US, as well as starring in and writing the film "Splitting Heirs", which turned out to be a miserable flop.

For "The Seussical", Idle will work alongside one of Broadway's most commercially successful teams, who were responsible for the development of the hit musical "Ragtime". This includes lyricist Lynn Ahrens, composer Stephen Flaherty and director Frank Galati.

[ image: Copyright and Trademark 1995, 1998 Dr Seuss Enterprises]
Copyright and Trademark 1995, 1998 Dr Seuss Enterprises
Despite the fact that Dr Seuss's works were first published over 40 years ago, the musical is considered to be part of the continued success of these books rather than their revival.

Today, worldwide sales of Dr Seuss books are estimated at over 200 million, and many other Seuss-inspired projects and products, such as T-shirts, movies, games, are expected over the next year.

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