OWTK Philly Local: Dr. Seuss’ The Cat In The Hat On The Stage

The Arden Theatre Cat in the Hat Press Photo 2_Maggie Johnson (Sally), Doug Hara (Cat), and Richard Crandle (Boy)_photo credit Mark Gavin

Maggie Johnson (Sally), Doug Hara (Cat), and Richard Crandle (Boy). Photo by Mark Gavin

The Arden Theatre’s current production of Dr. Seuss’ The Cat in the Hat (on stage through 6/29) is a surrealist dream in a frame hung low enough on the crooked wall allowing a child to stare directly into it with wide eyes and an even wider smile.

With an opening sequence that’s as engrossing as it is awkward, like something out of an obscure low-budget indie film trying to imitate a bigger budget Wes Anderson one, we sit in silence watching two actors sit in silence. The delicate high wire act attempted in this sequence by Cat in the Hat directors Doug Hara and Steve Pacek is something very few theaters would dare to try in a children’s show. Sally and the unnamed boy are bored, bored out of their minds as they “sat there we two”, and they are challenging us to be bored with them. We almost get there, just as we adults and our kids start squirming in our Arden seats, before the book’s first page is turned and everything is set in motion.

The Arden Theatre Cat in the Hat Press Photo 1_Doug Hara as The Cat_credit Mark Gavin

Doug Hara as The Cat. Photo by Mark Gavin

The Cirque du Soleil quality of The Cat, played beautifully by the multi-talented Doug Hara, steals the bulk of the show, especially the show-stopping climactic balancing act scene you know and love from Dr. Seuss’ original text, while the subtle slapstick physical comedy of Charlotte Ford’s Thing 1 and Dave Johnson’s Thing 2 might just be the funniest thing The Arden has ever staged for children or adults and is worth the price of the tickets alone. You and your kids will be absolutely hysterical as the famously red & white clad, blue-haired pair enter and exit the show. HYSTERICAL!

The Arden Theatre Cat in the Hat Press Photo 6_Charlotte Ford (Thing 1) and Dave Johnson (Thing 2)_credit Mark Gavin

Charlotte Ford (Thing 1) and Dave Johnson (Thing 2). Photo by Mark Gavin

Sometimes The Arden’s upstairs children’s productions can be lacking in dazzle (see: Robin Hood in 2012) but Dr. Seuss’ Cat In The Hat, like Pinocchio before it, does amazing things within the friendly confines. This show is a must see.

The run of The Arden Theatre Company’s wonderful Cat in the Hat has been extended through June 29th. Please take your kids, those currently in the target demo for Dr. Seuss books as well as those who’ve technically passed through that age range, because all will find so many joyous somethings to marvel at on stage at The Arden Theatre this spring.

*The Arden provided tickets for my family to attend the opening night of Dr. Seuss’ The Cat in the Hat. All opinions expressed above are honest and unbiased, as always.

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