If for some reason you weren't indoctrinated with "The Cat in the Hat" or any other Dr. Seuss as a child then you have my sympathies. And I mean the original stories and cartoons and not the recent film knock-offs. But for the other 99% of us, we gleefully remember the gripping tales of The Cat, The Lorax, The Grinch and Horton (to name just a few) and have those stories and images burned into our brains. And now Seattle Children's Theatre has come along with their production of this tale of two bored children and a crazy cat with "The Cat in the Hat" and while it may be lacking a bit of spark for this jaded adult, the stunning visuals are all there and the kids ate up the slapsticky staging of it all.
For the 1% that don't know the story, it's all about a Boy (Trick Danneker) and his sister Sally (Jennifer Sue Johnson) as they try to entertain themselves on a rainy afternoon. They can't go out and there's nothing to do inside. That is until the Cat in the Hat (Chad Kelderman) shows up with his playmates Thing 1 and Thing 2 (Mickey Rowe and Adria LaMorticella) to show them all the fun they can have much to the chagrin of the Fish (Allen Galli) who really doesn't think this Cat should be about when their Mother is out. All begins OK until Thing 1 and Thing 2 takes things too far and chaos ensues.
Directed by R. Hamilton Wright, the cast is wonderful. Danneker and Johnson embody the wide-eyed innocence of the kids perfectly and even manage some fun knowing asides. Galli is hilarious as the distraught Fish. Kelderman is great as the Cat while never going over the top with him. And Rowe and LaMorticella as the Things lend a remarkable air of crazy to the mix.
But as fabulous as the cast is my special kudos would go to Vicki Mortimer for the design of the show and Wright and Joseph Alford for the gloriously acrobatic staging and antics of the show. The costumes and ingenious sets look like they've leapt right off the page. And those of us with those images burned on our brains appreciate that. And the clown-like antics kept the action moving along. And for a story that would take about 5 minutes to tell from the book, this hour long show really needed that.
As I said, some of it did drag a bit for me but I'm not the intended audience. And the kids in the theater with me laughed and yelled at the stage and seemed to have a great time. And as always couldn't wait to ask questions to the actors after the show. A lovely fun time for the entire family … and even for us jaded adults.
"The Cat in the Hat" performs at Seattle Children's Theatre through October 28th. For tickets or information contact the SCT box office at 206-441-3322 or visit them online at www.sct.org.
Photo credit: Chris Bennion