“The Cat in the Hat” – Childsplay

Theater Review – January 23, 2017


Childsplay, Tempe Center for the Arts
Tempe, AZ

Unlike many Childsplay productions, the company’s third revival of Dr. Seuss’ “The Cat in the Hat” is aimed almost exclusively for the youngest theatergoers as it traces the familiar story in a vivid production.  At Saturday afternoon’s press opening, kids were focused rapturously on the stage as the 45 minute show unfolded with a touch of magic and vivid imagination in the staging and in stimulating the young audience’s minds.

Sitting next to me was a six-year-old boy.  When I asked him his name, he responded but he told me I couldn’t mention it in the review.  While I will not betray his wishes, at the show’s conclusion, I asked him what he thought and he said “I liked it.”  I never got to chat with his little sister who sat quietly with their parents while wildly intent on what was happening.  It was a joyful family outing.  The kids present enjoyed the show and when the cast talked to the audience at the end, several had interesting questions suggesting keen observation of what had just occurred on stage.  I especially liked the little girl in the balcony who asked how the scenery had been made.  I sense a future theater critic if at her young age she is so observant of a stage production.

The delightful Dr. Seuss plot has the wily Cat appear to two bored kids trapped in the house because of inclement weather.  The Cat introduces the kids to imaginative thinking that creates a variety of situations that console the jaded children with fanciful tales.

Childsplay has presented the popular story two times previously and has taken the show on school and national tours where it enchants young audiences.  The imaginative production is the brainchild of director David Barker as he sparks Katie Mitchell’s original adaptation for the National Theatre of Great Britain.

The exuberant cast includes Jon Gentry as the cleverly conniving Cat, Kate Haas as the suspicious Fish, Alan Khoutakoun and Jenny Hintze as the Things plus the amazed Drew Swaine as the Boy and the determined Shannon Phelps as the Girl.

“Dr. Seuss’ The Cat in the Hat” is a delightful live theater introduction for junior theatergoers and the children’s joy will make the experience worthwhile for their adult chaperones.  It continues through February 19 with weekend public performances at the Tempe Center for the Arts.  To order tickets, call the Tempe Center for the Arts box office at 480-350-2822 ext. 2 or order tickets online at www.childsplayaz.org.

Grade: A