The Cat in the Hat
Rose Theatre Kingston
Reviewed – 10th April 2019
“a cabaret of excitement and a fabulous family romp”
As the Dr Seuss classic has entertained the minds of young readers for half a century, this Rose Theatre Kingston and Curve co-production of The Cat in the Hat (originally adapted by Katie Mitchell) has a lot to live up to. So how do you translate the unique writing style of such a celebrated artist to stage? Throw in an abundance of acrobatics, a plethora of singalong songs and a water gun or two and you have got a spectacle that will keep the under fives transfixed.
The story we all know and love is that of two children whose miserable rainy day is thankfully interrupted by a cat, in a hat of all garments. While trying to entertain Sally (Melissa Lowe) and her little brother, the cat in the hat (Nana Amoo-Gottfried) gets up to all sorts of tricks and chaos ensues. Standout performances are Sam Angell as Boy, Sally’s incongruously Scottish yet harmlessly endearing little brother and Charley Magalit as the ever bubbly and surprisingly operatic Fish. With direction from Curve’s Associate Director Suba Das, the second half revs up the pacing to fourth gear when Thing 1 and Thing 2 (Celia Francis and Robert Penny) bamboozle the crowd with seemingly infinite combinations of attractive acrobatics.
The clever design of The Cat in the Hat (Isla Shaw) repeatedly takes the audience by surprise with imaginative costume choices and a cleverly camouflaged, movable set, that plays host to a range of elements bursting out, popping up and dangling all over the place. The beautifully oversized, cartoon backdrop, inspired by Ted Geisel’s original illustrations (with every prop giving a nod to the fifty-two year old publication), is set with angles and colourful lighting that reads like a book.
Performance teeters on the edge of pantomime as each character in turn asks the boys and girls (and grownups) to stand up and call out before, during and after each interactive number. Although this musical is filled with fun fantastical compositions from Tasha Taylor Johnson, most of the melodies are quite forgettable considering the rhyming genius of the source lyrics.
The Cat in the Hat is a cabaret of excitement and a fabulous family romp, albeit some way off the purrfect execution of a page to stage adaptation that one might hope for.
Reviewed by Vivienne King
Photography by Manuel Harlan
The Cat in the Hat
Rose Theatre Kingston until 21st April completing UK Tour
Seussical The Musical
Reviewed – 27th November 2018
“Celebrating imagination and kindness, ‘Seussical the Musical’ is a truly joyful production that will delight all ages.”
“An unusual story will soon be unfurled,” promises the Cat in the Hat as he opens ‘Seussical the Musical.’ It’s the story we all know and love. There are tails that grow so big birds stop being able to fly, people so small you can’t see them and of course, the iconic Cat in the Hat, orchestrating it all.
Our story begins with “a think”, when Horton the elephant finds a dust speck with a planet of tiny Whos on it that he vows to protect. After all, “A person’s a person no matter how small.” This is a heart warming story of friendship, non-judgemental kindness and most importantly the resounding power of the imagination. Director James Tobias notes some of the many topics that the narrative discusses: “bullying, unrequited love, body insecurity” which are explored in an accessible and nurturing way. And this musical production of it is an absolute success.
The cast is spectacularly strong across the board, a cohesive ensemble who also find their own vivid individualisms. Amy Perry is the perfect Gertrude McFuzz, a one feathered bird with a fantastic voice, she immediately has her audience rooting for her. Scott Paige as Horton the Elephant is equally perfect – charming, kind and gentle. Marc Pickering plays the cat himself, playful and vibrant, flitting chameleon like between characters. Ngozi Ugoh as Sour kangaroo is also a highlight, a vocal powerhouse who shines with charisma.
The show is fantastically designed by collaborative team Justin Williams and Jonny Rust, with a clear emphasis on colour. The Whos all wear yellow and orange (costumes by Rachel Cartlidge), the set itself is painted pink, and every last detail has been factored into this aesthetic.
The music created by Lynn Ahrens and Stephen Flaherty mimics a range of musical styles, swing, jazz and of course classic musical theatre. I’m still humming some of my favourites today! Between songs though the piece can feel a little thin, and there is little scripting to allow us to get to know these characters when they’re not singing. At moments it feels almost medley like although the talent of the cast carry the production through.
Celebrating imagination and kindness, ‘Seussical the Musical’ is a truly joyful production that will delight all ages.
Reviewed by Amelia Brown
Photography by Adam Trigg
Seussical The Musical
Southwark Playhouse until 29th December
Last ten shows reviewed at this venue!