Don’t Fuck With Mrs. Dr. Seuss

Don’t fuck with Dr. Seuss. The dearly departed doyenne of radio Lynn Samuels was given to reading from Horton Hatches the Egg on the air. That is, until she got a cease and desist letter from Audrey Stone Dimond – otherwise known as Mrs. Dr. Seuss! The cantankerous widow is wildly protective of her late husband’s work, and I’m sure Miss Samuels’ dulcet tones didn’t help matters.

I was reminded of this story last week at the opening night of Who’s Holiday! at the Westside Theater. This play tells the story of a grown-up Cindy-Lou Who from How The Grinch Stole Christmas. Playwright Matthew Lombardo tells us what happened to Cindy-Lou 40 years after meeting the Grinch in a one-woman show written in the style of the late Dr. Seuss. Is it a sequel? Is it a parody? Either way, last year’s premiere was thwarted by a cease and desist letter from guess who? The tenacious Lombardo took the matter to court – and won! “The play re-contextualizes Grinch’s easily recognizable plot and rhyming style by placing Cindy-Lou Who – a symbol of childhood innocence and naiveté – in outlandish, profanity-laden, adult-themed scenarios involving topics such as poverty, teenage pregnancy, drug and alcohol abuse, prison culture, and murder. In so doing, the Play subverts the expectations of the Seussian genre, and lampoons the Grinch by making Cindy-Lou’s naiveté, Who-Ville’s endlessly smiling, problem-free citizens, and Dr. Seuss’ rhyming innocence, all appear ridiculous,” said the judge.

What that meant was that the show was able to go on – albeit a year later – with a new advertising slogan: “See The Show Dr. Seuss Doesn’t Want You To See!” It lives up to the hype – due, in no small measure, to the bravura turn of star Lesli Margherita. She effortlessly captures the innocence of the young Cindy-Lou and then slowly adds layers as the perky mask falls. Oodles of credit must go to director Carl Andress, who works his endless theatrical magic to never let the show feel claustrophobic. I predict this will have huge seasonal appeal for years to come.

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