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Short and Sweet: Dr. Seuss’ The Cat in the Hat

Broadway In Chicago is happy to introduce “Short and Sweet,” a quick view of our shows courtesy of Diana Martinez, who will give you the lowdown on Broadway In Chicago productions from the perspective of an audience member. Diana has more than 25 years of experience as an entertainment executive, most recently as President of The Second City. She has directed and produced over 40 live Broadway musical theatre shows and has presented more than 350 world-class Broadway national tours, dance, headline comedians and concert. We hope you enjoy this quick insight into our shows, and since this is all about our audience, share your own thoughts with us in the comments below.

The Cat in the Hat – “Oh the fun you will have!”

If there is ever a show to expose your child to their first live theatrical experience, it’s Emerald City Theatre’s The Cat in the Hat playing at the Broadway Playhouse. The show is a brisk 40-minutes and filled with physical humor and bursting with creativity and comic bits providing loads of laughs for young and old alike. (Note, take advantage of the pre-show activities and arrive early as it adds to the fun for your child, coloring stations and interaction with characters are available for the youngsters)

This clever version, originally adapted by the National Theater in London, weaves in puppetry, poetry, puns, pranks, and pantomime that perfectly use visual staging, that engage the audience. The dialogue is concise and carefully placed, true to the classic Dr. Seuss rhymes through a story-line veiled in a theme of responsibility.

The casting is perfectly done and the actors couldn’t be more true to their cartoon archetypes led by Danny Taylor as The “leading cat”. Taylor plays his part of the mischievous feline with a slick and frolicsome confidence. With his first entrance he sets the tone for the high-jinx and madness. Eric Streibig stole the show as the fussy and flustered, fastidious Fish that desperately tries to manage the madness. His comic timing is beyond excellent and he captured the audience with only facial expressions and physical comedy, as a puppeteer. He won over every kid (and adult) in the audience and they showed their appreciation by going “up for grabs” when he took his bow. Not to be overshadowed is Michael Richardson (Boy) and Giselle Vaughn (Little Sally) who both are exactly how you’d envision the Dr. Seuss’ characters to be in a human form, they are adorable and believable.

photo-8My guest audience members were Maureen Lyne Richard of Aurora, her son Jordan age six and daughter Jayden age nine. The kids were both captivated from the minute the lights went down. Jordan said he loved The Cat in the Hat and his favorite part was “Watching the cat balance all that stuff -even on his hat!” Afterwards they both couldn’t wait to get out into the lobby for the autograph session. (Which is available after every show for all the kids.) I think my favorite part was hearing the little girls behind me giggling and watching Jordan who would look at his mom wide-eyed, throughout the show, as if to say, “Did you see that?”

After the show The Cat leads a great discussion with the audience that explains the theatricality of the show and shares a trick or two by leading the audience in a pantomime exercise to engage their imagination and humor. Emerald City the creators of this show, truly know what they are doing and how to engage the kids and secretly weave in a lesson that captivates children. Don’t let the summer pass without taking a trip to see this show and since it’s located right downtown, take advantage of the proximity of this theatre to the beach, The John Hancock building, or museum of Modern Art and make a cultural morning of it!

Tickets are only $15-$22 and there is validation for convenient Water Tower parking available for only $11 which makes this great family outing affordable. Tickets are available here.

The show is playing now thru September 1, 2013.  I spoke to several parents and kids behind me after the show and they concurred that the show is best suited is for kids ages 3-8. This would be a great alternative to a birthday party, and Groups rates for 10+ are now on sale by calling Broadway In Chicago Group Sales at 312-977-1710.