Between the gorgeous venue of beautiful Glen Echo Park and the creative addition of puppetry to their bag of tricks, Adventure Theatre Company hits it out of the park with The Cat in the Hat.
With Adventure Theatre Company (ATC) in its 68th season, it would appear they have yet another lovable and fun hit for theatergoers of all ages – but most especially young children. After seeing their production of Winnie the Pooh earlier this year, I was excited to see their newest production of Dr. Seuss’ The Cat in the Hat. And I enjoyed this production just as much as I did Winnie the Pooh.
Heading into the park to see the show, there was already excitement and joy in the air, thanks to Glen Echo hosting their first-ever Family Pride Celebration. Families and little ones were wandering, partying, and playing. Laughter could be heard all throughout the park. The excitement of seeing a brand-new production just elevated the already fun-filled day. It was then time to enter the theatre, and if ever there was a feeling of entering a Dr. Seuss book, this was it. The set could have been pulled directly from the pages of the author’s books. From the footlights that are modeled on the cat’s hat, to the red, blues, and blacks that make up the off-kilter and fabulous home the cat visits, each little detail makes you feel right at home in the world of Dr. Seuss.
The designers, Matthew Buttrey (scenic designer) and Alberto Segarra (lighting designer) obviously had a ball designing the set, and their dedication shows. However, the fun didn’t stop there. The characters, which were all puppets save for the cat himself, also looked at home in the world of Seuss. While the little girl and boy and the fish were perfectly suited to the world, the story really came alive to me with the introduction of Things 1 and 2. Both looked exactly like they do in the books. The frizzy hair and the red onesies are adorably suited to the story.
The actors (Debora Crabbe – Sally, John Sygar – Boy, Caroline Wolfson, Jonathan Miot, and Maria Simpkins – Ensemble) working the puppets, are all dressed in blue to blend into the blue walls. Wonderfully, they did nothing of the sort. The fun they each had with the puppets is infectious. Their facial expressions and movements add to the liveliness of the puppetry. Of course, The Cat in the Hat would not be The Cat in the Hat without a really great Cat (in a Hat, of course …) Louis E. Davis as the titular cat is joyful and completely dedicated to bringing the craziness of this character to the stage. His energy is manic. Whether he’s standing on a ball balancing all the things, or releasing Thing 1 and Thing 2 from their crate, he masters the cat’s playfulness.
What I really enjoy about the productions at Adventure Theatre is that they make shows for children and understand that half the fun of these productions is the reaction of these kids. The characters ask the audience questions and even give them a chance to interact with the puppets and the characters. It’s delightful to see how much the kids enjoy this aspect of the shows.
Yet again, ATC has created a fun, creative, and completely original show for kids. However, with the nostalgia of Dr. Seuss and these classic characters, it’s perfect for their parents and grandparents, too!
Dr. Seuss’ The Cat in the Hat plays weekends through August 18, 2019, at the Adventure Theatre Company (7300 MacArthur Blvd. | Glen Echo, MD, 20812). Tickets can be purchased at the door or online.