Dr. Seuss’ The Cat in the Hat at Olympia Family Theater is a fun play that breezes nonstop through almost-constant motion in less than 40 minutes. As everyone who remembers the book knows — and who doesn’t remember the book? — there aren’t a lot of words. Thus, a large part of the play is choreographed movement, comical sound effects and mime. A lot of its movement is lithe and wacky, and the mime is precious to watch. No doubt such physical magic is due to the adroit guidance of director Kate Ayers.
The set by the inimitable Jill Carter is in the well-known style of Dr. Seuss’ storybook illustrations. The puppets and other props are delightful, especially the large catfish puppet and props that almost magically stick to each other, defying gravity when the Cat in the Hat (Heather R. Christopher) balances them on her hands, feet and hat, or when pictures on the wall are knocked askew. Kudos to puppet artist Jamie Jenson, prop artist John O’Brien and scenic engineer David Nowitz. These folks demonstrate the brilliance and hard work that goes into making theater magic.
It’s a rainy day and Sally (Christine Goode) and her friend (Austin Lang) are stuck in the house, bored nearly to death and bemoaning that there’s nothing to do, until the Cat in the Hat appears and wreaks havoc on their home. The cat steals the fish (puppeteer Rebecca Rogers) from his fishbowl and tosses him in the air, then does a circus-style balancing stunt with just about everything in the house. Then the Cat brings into the house a big, red box, within which are two “things” — Thing 1 (Meghan Goodman) and Thing 2 (Theresa McKenzieSullivan) — who run, jump and fly kites in the house, breaking just about everything.
Children’s shows are nearly always short, and this is among the shortest I’ve seen. Time flies, as do (metaphorically) all the characters. Interestingly, there wasn’t as much applause and laughter from the opening-night audience as I usually see at OFT shows. Instead, the children in the audience were transfixed by the dance-like movement, most particularly Christopher’s balancing act and her quickly changing expressions. I’ve seen her in many plays, but I don’t think I’ve ever seen her quite so funny. I suspect in real life she really is the Cat in the Hat.
For little kids, I can’t recommend this production strongly enough. Adults who accompany them will enjoy it as well.
(This review appears courtesy of The Weekly Volcano.)
What: Dr. Seuss’ The Cat in the Hat
Where: Olympia Family Theater,
612 Fourth Ave. E, Olympia
When: 7 p.m. Thursdays – Fridays;
2 p.m. Saturdays – Sundays through Oct. 22
How much: $13-$19
Learn more: 360-570-1638 | OFT