Monday, September 23, 2013
Theater review: Hurry, stat! Go see The Cat in the Hat
The kid-friendly play performed by Dallas Children's Theater runs through October 20.
DALLAS It's wild and crazy, filled with this and that. At Dallas Children's Theater it's The Cat in the Hat! The costumes are delightful, sounds and scenery are too. At 60 minutes short, so nice for young ones and you! Yes, it’s Dr. Seuss' famed story that won all the glory. Thankfully, Mike Meyers isn't involved, so it’s satisfactory. Even the curtain speech rhymes in the familiar Geisel prose. Attention to detail is paid and it certainly shows.
As much fun as it would be to keep writing in rhyme now, I don't want to get on someone's nerves and make them have a cow (sorry!), so I'll stop. H. Bart McGeehon's design perfectly captures the whimsical images of the book. It also allows for easy portability and lacks clutter so the actors have plenty of space to move. Add to that his wonderful video design, projected on to Seuss-style book shapes hung on the downstage curtain, and we have a strong contender for best set design of the year.
Sound design by Marco Salinas and John Moss II is anchored by an unseen narrator who receives no credit in the script. I assume it's Douglas Burks' voice; it sounds like his. The rain effects are impressive as well as the sounds of squeaking and bouncing balls. The sound of the Cat's cleaning device is standard fair for such nonsensical things but extraordinary nonetheless.
Linda Blase's lighting design is adequate. There isn't much out of the ordinary presented in The Cat in the Hat, though some funky lighting is used to present the fish and his puppeteer so the kids aren't confused as to why there's a man wandering around with the fish.
Lyle Huchton's costume designs & construction really bring the show together, not unlike a nice rug. He pays homage to the original illustrations by keeping The Boy and Sally in black and white. Also, Thing 1 and Thing 2 appear in their traditional red coveralls and blue hair and The Cat has his signature red-striped stovepipe hat. The fish, however, is perfectly designed by Kathy Burks Theatre of Puppetry Arts and puppeteer Douglas Burks is dressed quite formally in a three-piece suit, mustache and black wig. For those familiar, he bears a striking resemblance to Paul Bearer from the WWE.
The cast of The Cat in the Hat must be physically fit for all the wild running they do throughout the show. However, Zak Reynolds and Steph Garrett, as The Boy and Sally, get off light with very few spoken words. The narrator tells their story quite thoroughly. Who could get a word in with such an exuberant cat around anyway?
Brendan Cyrus plays the feline protagonist, set on brightening up a gloomy day trapped indoors. This was the time before video games, of course. He's charismatic and fun while not being frighteningly over-the-top.
Karl Schaeffer and Lindsay Longacre as Thing 1 and Thing 2, the two crazed accomplices,are a riot to follow across the stage as they yell and laugh and destroy anything they come in contact with. They're also effective as “cat hands” who dress like The Cat and help him show off his wacky personality, such as when he balances the fish on his umbrella while balancing on a ball himself.
Douglas Banks as The Fish, the only voice of reason who protests the cat's actions and mere presence, is a bit of a non-entity throughout the show. It's easy to lose him in the chaos the two Things and The Cat have brought into the house, and until he speaks up or is featured in a scene, he is practically invisible. It would be nice to see his character more of a presence on stage.
With that said, this review is done, and I shall go out and play in the sun. If you want some live theatre, this is the one. Fun for all ages, for your daughter or son. I guarantee you'll laugh and I know that you'll cheer. Entertaining is The Cat, no matter what time of year.
Pegasus News Content partner - John Garcia's The Column