'Cat in the Hat' is all about delight

The Cat (Dean Holt) attempts a balancing act with Elsie Langer, Gerald Drake, and Douglas Neithercott.
The Cat (Dean Holt) attempts a balancing act with Elsie Langer, Gerald Drake, and Douglas Neithercott.
Photo by Dan Norman
We probably all remember the dreary, rainy days of childhood, when our parents wouldn't let us out and none of the distractions inside seemed to hold any interest. Dr. Seuss took that innocent boredom and spun it into something magical in The Cat in the Hat.

It's a tale that has spread out into other media, from a decent animated special to an excretable film starring Mike Myers. The latest is a stage adaptation at the Children's Theatre Company, coming from the National Theatre in London, and given an unmistakable vibe by director Jason Ballweber and an energetic cast led by the always thrilling Dean Holt.
The adaptation, crafted by Katie Mitchell, uses the situations from the book -- and Seuss's original verses -- for the framework. The rest is Seuss-inspired madness, with sets and costumes seemingly pulled right from the book's illustrations. 

The actors are up to the madness, starting with Elise Langer and Douglas Neithercott as the Girl and Boy destined to have a wild, wild afternoon. They carry the piece in the first few minutes, wringing delicious moments out of the heightened sense of boredom. Anything can be an irritant in this frame of mind -- such as a squeaky chair.

The boredom is over once Holt's mad cat makes the scene. A tremendously gifted physical comedian, Holt showcases his dexterity and comic timing throughout his time onstage. The intensity only increases when the dreaded Thing 1 and Thing 2 (Elaine Patterson and Noah Crandell) make the scene, and prove the family's fish -- Gerald Drake in a black suit with pink accents, with a puppet on his arm -- was right in his fear of the cat's presence. (And really, what kind of mother leaves her kids alone under the supervision of a fish?)

The madness starts and goes in less than 45 minutes, with everything wrapped by the time mom's leg and hand make the stage for the final blackout. The vibe is very similar to the work Ballweber does with Four Humors, packed with gentle touches, alert comedy, and a warm vibe that makes it easy to like the cat, even as he makes a total mess of the house in very short order. (Of course, any cat owner can tell you their feline doesn't need any help to make a mess, but that's a different story.)

The Cat in the Hat
Children's Theatre Company
2400 Third Ave. S., Minneapolis
Through December 2
For information, call 612.874.0400 or visit online
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Children's Theatre Company

2400 3rd Ave. S.
Minneapolis, MN 55404-3597


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