by Henry Gonzales
Would you, could you watch a wonderful show? Would you watch it here or there? Would you watch The Cat is Back with Sneetches, fish and a pair of green pants?…I would! I would pay to see that!
The world of Dr. Seuss comes to life in The Cat Is Back now playing at the Enchanted Playhouse in Visalia. The children’s show was co-directed by Debbie Metzler and Kay Whistler. The story, which is an amalgamation of various Dr. Seuss stories: The Cat in the Hat, Green Eggs and Ham, and The Sneetches and Other Stories, was adapted by director Debbie Metzler. Intermingling the characters from these stories did not look like an easy task, but it was done very well.
Metzler managed to fully represent the conflict and resolution of the books. One could come into the play and not know the full stories but still get the message behind the books. In The Sneetches, the conflict of discrimination between the “Star-Bellied Sneetches” and the “Plain Belly Sneetches” is presented just as in the book with the two opposing groups ending up intermingled because they can no longer tell each other apart. The message of The Cat in the Hat was the importance of imagination and was apparent throughout. The conflict of “The Cat’s” destruction is resolved by the children’s use of imagination which is what their mother had advised them to do in the first place to rid themselves of the rainy day blues.
The set was minimalist, which is expected in a show with many scene changes. Even before the curtains opened you saw the world of Dr. Seuss through the use of stylized cutouts of trees, signs, and buildings. It was colorful and appealing to the eye. The lighting and sound effects were very well done and also added to the “Seuss” world that they created. The costuming in this show was on the brink of genius with the creativity behind them. Look for the character of the “Fish,” you will be blown away.
The acting in the play far exceeded my expectations of performances in a children’s show. And it was the young actors that had me so impressed. Several of the children had me laughing and clapping from line delivery alone. One of the stand out performances of the night went to a young man who portrayed “Dave” (Zach McGuire) in the scene “What Was I Afraid Of.” McGuire portrayed the character with such sincerity and believability that I could hardly believe he was a child. His comic timing rivaled many adults I have seen on stage. Adding to all of that his pantomiming of being caught in a thorny bush was spot on and believable. Kirstin Warren who played “Sally” also caught my attention. Her multi-layered performance was in the moment and captivating.
The Cat Is Back was a fantastic play and journey. In fact, I enjoyed it so much I had to shake everyone’s hands at the end. I think anyone with children should see the show simply because Dr. Seuss is the most well loved children’s author and I think the show did his work justice. The show runs through May 11 and ticket info can be found on their website and on their KRL event page.
Check out more local theatre reviews this week right here in KRL & even more theatre reviews & articles in our Arts & Entertainment section!