Seussical is a musical based on the books of Dr. Seuss that debuted on Broadway in 2000. The play's story is a rather complex amalgamation of many of Seuss' most famous books.
The overarching plot of the show mirrors that of Horton Hears a Who!, centering on Horton the elephant's endeavors to protect the people of Who-ville, who live on a tiny speck of dust. It also features characters and scenarios from many other Seuss books, including the Butter Side Uppers / Downers from The Butter Battle Book, Gertrude McFuzz from Gertrude McFuzz, and some characters that never made an appearance in any of Dr. Seuss's books. The Cat in the Hat, an outside observer, acts as narrator and devil's advocate throughout the show, briefly leaping into the action on several occasions to create conflict and keep the story moving.
In all, the following Seuss books have some characters and/or settings are incorporated into the show:
The original production was not very successful and closed after 34 previews and 198 performances. It has since experienced success in regional and children's theater companies across the country.
The story begins with a bare stage, save for an odd red-and-white striped hat. A small boy discovers it and imagines what it could belong to, finally conjuring up the Cat in the Hat. The Cat creates the Seussian world around him and the boy (Oh, the Thinks You Can Think!), and he acts as the narrator for the remainder of the musical, as well as playing some of the minor roles. At the Cat's encouragement, the boy thinks up the Jungle of Nool, where Horton the Elephant is bathing.
Horton hears a strange noise coming from a speck of dust, and decides there must be someone on it. He rescues the speck and places it on a clover (Horton Hears a Who) and decides to guard it. Lead by the Sour Kangaroo, the other animals in the jungle mock him mercilessly, except for Gertude McFuzz, Horton's next door neighbor, who admires his compassion and begins to fall in love with him (Biggest Blame Fool). Horton soon discovers the dust speck is in fact a planet covered with microscopic people called Whos. They introduce themselves and their community (such as their yearly Christmas pagent based on How the Grinch Stole Christmas) and explain their predicament. In addition to being unable to control where their dust speck flies, they are on the brink of war and all of their beautiful Truffula Trees (from The Lorax) have been cut down (Here on Who). Horton's resolve to guard the dust speck is strengthened. At this point, the Cat in the Hat abruptly pushes the boy from the beginning into the story; he becomes Jojo, the son of the Mayor of Whoville. No sooner does he enter than he is roughly scolded by his parents: he has been causing trouble at school by thinking (or rather, having Thinks), disrupting the class and horrifying the teachers. Jojo is sent to take a bath and to go to bed, but the Cat persuades him to "have a think in the tub" (McElligot's Pool). Distracted by his Think, Jojo accidentally floods the Mayor's house, and is then sent to bed. The Mayor and his wife, bewildered, wonder what they can do to set their son straight (How To Raise a Child). After receiving a brochure from the Cat, they decide to send him into the Army, under the supervision of General Ghengis Khan Shmitz (A character in I Had Trouble in Getting to Solla Sollew), who is preparing to go to war with those who eat their bread butter side down (as in The Butter Battle Book) (The Military).
Meanwhile, Horton has been guarding the clover for "over a week", getting ridiculed by the Citizens of the Jungle. He attempts to communicate with the Whos, and Jojo responds. They chat and discover they both have an affinity for Thinking (Alone in the Universe). Jojo goes to sleep, only to be woken up by the Cat in the Hat. The Cat asks him what should happen next, and Jojo decides to focus on Getrude. Her feelings for Horton are stronger than ever, but she fears he doesn't notice her because her tail consists only of "one droopy-droop feather" (The One Feather Tail of Miss Gertrude McFuzz). At the advice of Mayzie La Bird, whose tail is enormous and dazzling, Gertrude, goes to Doctor Dake by the Lake (played by the Cat), who prescribes her pills to make her tail grow (Amayzing Mayzie/Amayzing Gertude).
Horton is ambushed by a group of mischievous monkeys called the Wickersham Brothers (Monkey Around) who steal the clover and run off with it. Horton gives chase, until the monkeys give the clover to a black-bottomed bird named Vlad Vladikoff. Horton continues to chase the clover, until Vlad drops it into a large patch of identical clovers, 'one hundred miles wide' (Chasing the Whos). The Cat in the Hat abruptly freezes the action and delivers an ironically cheery tune to the audience (How Lucky You Are). Horton begins to look for the clover, hoping that the Whos are still alive, when Gertrude, who has followed Horton all this distance, catches up with him. She tries to catch his attention, but he is too busy looking for the Whos to notice her (Notice Me, Horton). After searching 2,999,999 clovers, Horton loses hope, and he sees Mayzie La Bird high in a nest. Apparently, she was in Fort Worth, when she met a Night Owl named Tweet McFirth. After 'three weeks of bliss', Tweet left her with an egg. Mayzie then persuades Horton to give up on the search for the Whos and sit on her egg while she goes off for a vacation. Horton reluctantly agrees, and Mayzie flies off (How Lucky You Are (Mayzie's Reprise)). Horton waits on the egg for months, until finally he is captured by hunters. Gertrude makes an attempt to go after Horton, but the size and weight of her new tail prevents her from flying. The Cat in the Hat, backed by the full company, sings How Lucky You Are a final time to finish off Act I.
At the top of Act II, Horton is transported to New York City and auctioned off to a man from the circus (If I Ran the Circus) (Egg, Nest, and Tree). After going on the road and 'performing for nuts', Horton meets up with Mayzie again, and tries to give the egg back to her. She insists that he keep it as a rather dubious gift, wishes him good luck when it hatches, and leaves. Horton then resigns himself to protecting the egg, determined not to fail as he did in protecting Who. Then he sings the egg a lullabye about a fantastic paradise called Solla Sollew. At the same time, Jojo, the Mayor, and the Mayor's Wife, lost in the clover field, reflect on recent events, wishing they could all be in Solla Sollew as well (Solla Sollew).
The Battle of Butter finally commences. Jojo rebels against General Shmitz and abandons the army. He hands his sword and hat to the General, walks away, and accidentally steps on a mine. The General assumes that Jojo died in the explosion, and heads back to Whoville to tell the Mayor that Jojo was lost. However, Jojo did not die in the battle, and finds himself in a dark place, and he does not know where to go. After being confronted by the Cat and the Hunches (Hunches in Bunches), Jojo finds his way home (Havin' a Hunch).
Meanwhile, Gertrude sneaks into the circus where Horton is kept at night and frees him. She explains the troubles she went through to reach him, including getting all but one of her tail feathers plucked out to allow her to fly, and finally confesses her love for him (All For You). What's more, she found Horton's clover, as well! Horton is delighted to find the Whos alive and well, but the happy ending has not arrived yet: the Sour Kangaroo suddenly appears and makes a citizen's arrest on Horton. Horton is dragged back to the Jungle of Nool and put on trial for "disturbing the peace, talking to a clover, and loitering...on an egg." The Cat plays the bailiff, and Judge Yertle the Turtle presides over the case. Gertrude and Horton make a stand at the case, but the verdict is obvious from the beginning: Horton is remanded to the "Nool Asylum for the Criminally Insane," and the clover is to be boiled in a kettle of Beezlenut Oil. Horton, agasht, encourages the Whos to make as much noise as they can, to prove they exist. Their efforts initially seem futile, until Jojo comes up with a new word, "YOPP," which reverberates throughout the world and finally makes the Whos heard (The People Versus Horton the Elephant). The court acquits Horton, and the Sour Kangaroo decides to do her part in protecting the clover. On Who, Jojo is celebrated for his achievement, to be honored as Thinker Non-Stop.
Suddenly, the egg hatches: to the everyone's surprise, a tiny flying Elephant-Bird comes out. Horton panics, realizing he can't handle flying progeny, and asks Gertrude what he should do. "I have wings," she responds, "you teach him earth, and I will teach him sky." They agree to raise the child together. The Cat in the Hat appears one final time to sum things up (Oh, the Thinks You Can Think! (Reprise)). The scene dissolves, leaving only Jojo, now just a boy again, and the strange hat from the top of show. He walks up to the hat, and pulls it over his head. Blackout.
The curtain call is accompanied by a rousing final number set to a verse of Green Eggs and Ham.