Five years ago the Salt Lake Acting Company saw a need for children plays presented as a professional production. This year their December selection is Dr. Seuss’s The Cat in the Hat, adapted by Katie Mitchell and directed by Penelope Caywood. The story is a Dr. Seuss favorite. It’s about a cat who comes to stay on a rainy day and causes havoc in the lives of two children.
Penelope found the play challenging. It literally recreates each page from the book and then fills in action to move from one page to the next. “We had books during practice to show the actors exactly what their facial expressions should be,” Penelope says. There is a lot of energy in Cat in the Hat and the actors are running the whole time. During the play the sets are “destroyed” and then have to be cleaned up and all that is done according to choreography.
For their children’s production, SLAC is excited to be able to offer free performances for Title One school children through their Title One Matinee Program. Thanks to generous sponsors, 1,300 school children will get the chance to experience professional theatre. “It is always a joy. The children are mesmerized watching the play and to see the light in their eyes and experience the thank yous and hugs shows the power of theatre is alive and well,” Fleming says.
SLAC has a tradition of choosing children plays based on popular books. They’ve done Go Dog Go, If You Give a Mouse a Cookie, How I Became a Pirate and Click Clack Moo: Cows That Type. Using book-based plays gives the students a chance to read the book and then see it come to life in the play. Teachers report that when their students get back to class they want the experience to continue and ask to read the books again.
The play runs from December 6 through December 28 with Friday night performances at 7 p.m. and Saturday and Sunday performances at noon and 3 p.m. During the last two weeks a 10 a.m. performance is added on Saturday and Sunday. The running time, including a pre-show with a presentation about rhyming and activities to get the wiggles out, is about an hour. SLAC is located at 168 West and 500 North.