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'Suessical,' final Paul Bunyan Playhouse show, begins run tonight

The Paul Bunyan Playhouse will present "Suessical," the final play of the summer season. The musical, with a cast of 25 actors, starts tonight and runs through Aug. 11. Two matinees, starting at 2 p.m., are planned for Aug. 5 and Aug. 9. Monte Draper | Bemidji Pioneer

BEMIDJI - The Paul Bunyan Playhouse traditionally closes the theater season with a big musical finale and the production of "Suessical" opening tonight at the Chief Theater in downtown Bemidji will carry on the tradition.

Artistic Director Terry Lynn Carlson shares that "Suessical" has 25 cast members, four musicians, three techs, a lighting designer, sound designer, tech director, choreographer, costumer, musical director and himself.

Watching the sheer size of the cast onstage, it becomes apparent that these numbers are necessary in order to attempt the two-hour musical summarization of the wacky genius that is Theodor Suess Geisel.

"Suessical" draws from some of Mr. Geisel's 46 children's books published under the name of Dr. Suess, including "Green Eggs and Ham," "The Cat in the Hat," "One Fish Two Fish Red Fish Blue Fish," "Horton Hatches the Egg," "Horton Hears a Who!" and "How the Grinch Stole Christmas!" While there have been numerous adaptations of his work, including 11 television specials, four feature films, and four television series, there is only one ""Suessical"."

"Now, imagine a curtain and what lies behind; the kind of a place you might see in your mind. From the page to the stage, come along and enjoy - this tale of an elephant, a bird, and a boy!" -Cat in the Hat

This is a show for all ages because, well, there is just something about Suess. Who could ever resist, when reading to a child, falling into the magical world found on every page of a Dr. Suess book?

"Today you are you, that is truer than true. There is no one alive who is youer than you," or "The more that you read, the more things you will know. The more that you learn, the more places you'll go."

Even if that is not your experience, at some point in your life, you were a child. Somewhere, on some level, that child still exists and will be found, quite easily, with the help of the "Cat in the Hat." Forget about the mortgage and the electric bill and for one night find the magic of childhood again.

Sure, we have Oprah and Dr. Phil and The Real Housewives all helping us find our way, but let's go back and really listen to the best advice we probably ever had.

"Today was good. Today was fun. Tomorrow is another one" or "You have brains in your head. You have feet in your shoes. You can steer yourself, any direction you choose" and "Think left and think right and think low and think high. Oh, the thinks you can think up if only you try."

The magic in these lines translates so effortlessly onto the stage and helping in this endeavor are amazing costumes and an enchanting set. The messages that have always been a part of Dr. Suess are gloriously outlined in detail. So when Horton the Elephant emphatically states "A person is a person no matter how small," even though he is referring to the residents of Who-Ville found on a speck of dust lovingly placed on a clover by the tender Horton, we can relate. We know in our hearts that regardless of where we ended up, we all started the same.

"And if worse comes to worse, as we all know it will, thank your lucky stars you've gotten this far" - "Cat in the Hat"

Performances of "Suessical" are underwritten by First National Bank and Paul Bunyan Broadcasting.

Beginning at 8 tonight in the Historic Chief Theater, and continuing through Saturday Aug. 11, ticket prices for all performances are $25 for adults and $10 for students.

Two matinees - at 2 p.m. Aug. 5 and Aug. 9 - are planned. All tickets may be purchased through the Playhouse Box Office at 218-751-7270 or online at