(NETCONG, NJ) -- Doctor Seuss's famous book “The Cat in the Hat” has enchanted children across the world since its publication in 1957. This stage adaption of the classic, originally produced by the National Theatre of Great Britain, is now showing at the Growing Stage Theatre in Netcong, NJ between Friday, May 5th and Sunday, May 21st. The show, featuring Davis Cameron Lemley as the titular Cat in the Hat and directed by Lori B. Lawrence, is a delightfully faithful piece that expands on the original with sound effects, physical comedy, and pantomime.
The quick-witted and charming production follows the misadventures of The Cat in the Hat, who shows up one day at the home of Sally (Marie Nicole) and her brother (Jason Pumarada) and rapidly turns their day upside down with his mischievous pranks and wacky games. However, their pet fish (Andrew Danford) is less than enthused at the Cat's arrival, especially once his two assistants, Thing One (Alexandra Vecchio) and Thing Two (Najah Johnson), begin tearing the place apart with their roughhousing. The two siblings must figure out how to stop the Cat and the Things from completely destroying everything in the house – and quickly, before their mother comes home.
The set is simple and understated, making excellent use of Doctor Seuss's exaggerated signature style to bring the house and its many rooms to life. Thick black outlines frame the edges of objects, making them look like the colorful pen-and-ink illustrations in the original book. Even when the stage gets busy with lots of props and moving elements, the action is always easy to read and it never feels overly crowded.
The “narration” of the play, spoken by the characters, is exactly the same as that of the book, making it an excellent experience for children who've just been introduced to Doctor Seuss's rhyming verse. The siblings narrate the events of the play, while the other characters add their own voices to the mix. However, for the most part, the story is conveyed through a mixture of silent performances, aided by over-the-top sound effects, extended pantomimed scenes, and excellent slow-motion sequences that had the whole audience cracking up.
The performances are wonderfully exaggerated, with the Cat's antics getting a lot of laughs from the audience, and the actors are always moving around the stage – and even chasing each other down the aisles at times. The Cat himself is a flamboyant figure, and his two assistants, Things One and Two, had everyone laughing as they cheerfully knocked over parts of the set. The siblings, while taking part in their share of gags, are bewildered and dismayed throughout as the Cat's antics get more and more over-the-top. Danford, who portrayed the Fish, did an excellent job bringing out his character's personality through his movements and mannerisms, leading to some of the funniest physical comedy in the show.
The Cat in the Hat will be performed at Growing Stage: The Children’s Theatre of New Jersey three times a week: Fridays at 7:30pm and Saturdays and Sundays at 4:00pm. The house opens 30 minutes before the start of the show. On Fridays, “Everyone is a child,” and all tickets are $15. Saturday and Sunday prices are $25 for Adults, $15 for Children, and $20 for Seniors. Tickets can be purchased online at www.growingstage.com or at the box office at 7 Ledgewood Avenue, Netcong New Jersey.
PHOTOS BY JERRY DALIA