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The Cat in the Hat

Fun for children and adults at Olympia Family Theater

Heather R. Christopher as the Cat in the Hat. Photo courtesy Olympia Family Theater

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The Cat in the Hat at Olympia Family Theater is a fun, little play that breezes through non-stop and almost constant motion for under 40 minutes with no intermission.

As everyone who remembers the book by Dr. Seuss knows - and who doesn't remember the book? - there are not a lot of words, so a large part of the play is choreographed movement, comical sound effects and mime. A lot of the movement is lithe and wacky, and the mime is precious to watch.

The set by the inimitable Jill Carter is in the well-known style of Dr. Seuss' storybook illustrations. The puppets and other props are delightful, especially the exceedingly large catfish puppet and the props that almost magically stick to each other and defy gravity when the Cat in the Hat (Heather R. Christopher) balances them on her hands, feet and hat, and when pictures on the wall are knocked askew. Kudos to puppet artist Jamie Jenson, prop artist John O'Brien and scenic engineer David Nowitz. These folks demonstrate the brilliance and hard work that goes into making theater magic magical.

It's a rainy day and Sally (Christine Goode) and her friend, known only as Boy (Austin Lang), are stuck in the house, and they are bored nearly to death, bemoaning that there is nothing to do until the Cat in the Hat appears out of nowhere and wreaks havoc on their home. The cat steals the fish (Rebecca Rogers, puppeteer) from his fish bowl and tosses him in the air. She does a circus balancing stunt with just about everything in the house, and she brings into the house a big red box within which are "two things," Thing 1 (Meghan Goodman) and Thing 2 (Theresa McKenzieSullivan) who are unleashed upon Sally and the boy to wreak even more havoc on the house. Thing 1 and Thing 2 run and jump and fly kites in the house, breaking just about everything in the process.

Children's shows are nearly always short, and this one is among the shortest I've ever seen. The time flies, as do (metaphorically) all the characters. Interestingly, there was not as much laughter and applause from the opening night audience as I usually see at OFT shows. Instead, the children in the audience were transfixed by the dance-like movement, and most particularly, Christopher's circus balancing act and her quick changing expressions.

I've seen Christopher in many plays, and I don't think I've ever seen her quite so funny. I suspect that in real life she really is the Cat in the Hat.

For little kids, I can't recommend this strongly enough. For adults who hang out with them, enjoy!

The Cat in the Hat, 7 p.m., Friday; 2 p.m., Saturday-Sunday, through Oct. 22, $19 adults, $16 military, $13 youth, Olympia Family Theater, 612 4th Ave. E., Olympia, 360.570.1638, olyft.org

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