It is always a treat to get to spend an afternoon with my children at the Center for Puppetry Arts. I get to explain how “When I was a Kid” we didn’t have any and ALL entertainment at our fingertips, we looked forward to Saturday Mornings and arranged our social schedule around “Muppet Show” night. I get to share Miss Piggy’s unconditional love for her tiny little man “Kermee”, explain how Jim Henson and Frank Oz mechanized one of my favorite characters (the Swedish Chef) and do my own brilliant impression of Beaker.
The morning of June 29th, 2014, the mischievous parent that I am, decided to keep the show a secret. I wish I could bottle the look that crossed my Littles’ eyes when I told them the production for the day was Dr. Seuss’s classic “The Cat In The Hat”.
The stage was painted with the iconic Seussian baby blue, red, white and black with larger than life projections of the infamous cat on the wings. It was very much like looking at the page with the illustrator’s simple black line cross hatching and shading. At the top of the show we are introduced to a gang of characters we don’t recognize, all in abstract baby blue cat costumes, soon to realize they are our storytellers…and then the poem begins.
The play, directed by Jon Ludwig, is the book with all its mayhem, mess and the chapeau wearing cat’s antidotes to Sally and her brother’s rainy day boredom. The children are elegant Paper Mâché rod puppet replicas of the illustrations, the fish is a traditional hand puppet ducking in and out of fish bowls and teapots and The Cat in The Hat is a floppy stuffed puppet engineered by three performers which enabled an incredible articulation of storytelling.
With the magic of theater, this favorite bedtime story is so much more. Ludwig’s direction plays with perspective brilliantly. The audience gets a chance to see the world from inside the fish bowl, hear The Cat’s Appalachia banjo playing for a moment, from his point of view, as a beautiful Latin Ballad and experience Thing 2′s joy ride on a kite string in slow motion. We “SNAP” back to the page when sound effects get projected, in true Seussian fashion, above the action.
Other highlights include; Thing 1 and Thing 2 emerging from their Red Box in a cloud of smoke (or “steam” as my 5 years old says), the fish’s unwillingness to participate and…being the dancer I am…the whole show is worth it for The Cat’s Fosse style number. Sooo… if you are around Atlanta between now and July 20th, with or without children, you simply must go see “The Cat In The Hat”. Better yet…get your membership, sit in the front row and enjoy all that the Center Of Puppetry Arts has to offer.