Dr. Seuss’s madcap cat will be up to his many tricks, most of them messy, starting Friday at Olympia Family Theater, which is staging a faithful adaptation of his beloved “Cat in the Hat.”
“ ‘The Cat in the Hat’ is so iconic, whether you are reading it to children today or whether you grew up having it read to you,” said director Kate Ayers. “It’s so much a part of our culture.”
Katie Mitchell’s version of Seuss’s best-known story — about a chaos-creating cat (Heather Christopher) who drops in on two bored kids (Christine Goode and Austin Lang) and their fearful fish (puppeteer Rebecca Rogers) — takes dialogue straight from the book and brings its illustrations to life on stage.
That was the idea behind the meticulous adaptation Mitchell premiered in 2009 in London.
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“I’d quite like to honor the experience that my child first had when I read her the book: With each page turn, she saw another picture,” Mitchell told The (London) Telegraph in an interview that year. “To have the relationship with the experience of being read the book by your parents is a lovely way to explore it.”
Ayers said, “The way the script is devised, there’ll be the picture drawn in the book and then the words. We make each picture into a whole scene. It’s been a delight.”
That suits her love — as both actor and director — of physical comedy.
“I personally like to act between the lines, to say more between the lines than what is written,” she told the Olympian in 2015, describing her approach to directing Olympia Family Theater’s “The Monster Under the Bed.”
Given that the cat’s visit results in something akin to a movie scene showing where a teenager has had a party while his parents are away, putting the pictures into action has been a big task.
“I have a fantastic cast, and they are so into the whole Seussian aspect of it,” she said. “It’s been a challenge and a lot of fun: How do we make everything balance on top of an umbrella? I had a great production team on this, and we’ve just figured all of those things out.”
As those who’ve read the book — probably over and over again — will recall, the umbrella is only one small part of the cat’s balancing act, which ends in a great fall. But no matter. He picks himself up and introduces blue-haired Thing 1 (Meghan Goodman) and Thing 2 (Theresa McKenzieSullivan), who bump, thump and jump their way through the children’s home until the unnamed boy captures them with a net.
The show clocks in at about 40 action-packed minutes, Ayers said. While the production, like the book, is sized for the attention spans of toddlers and pre-schoolers, she expects to find much older audience members having a ball with Seuss’s wacky humor.
“It’s a perfect show for Olympia Family Theater,” she said. “It’s geared for everyone.
“There are going to be some surprises and perhaps some things that people haven’t seen on the Olympia Family Theater stage.”
‘The Cat in the Hat’
Olympia Family Theater presents a faithful adaptation of the beloved Dr. Seuss story.
When: 7 p.m. Friday plus Oct. 5, 13 and 20; 2 p.m. Saturday and Sunday plus Oct. 7, 8, 14, 15, 21 and 22
Where: Olympia Family Theater, 612 Fourth Ave. E, Olympia
Tickets: $19 general admission; $16 for students, seniors and military; $13 for youth (12 and younger); available at olyft.org or at the box office. For the Oct. 5 performance, pay what you can; tickets for that performance are available only at the box office beginning at noon the day of the show.
More information: 360-570-1638, olyft.org