OFF BEAT

OFFBEAT: Emerald City a rhyming success with 'Cat in the Hat'

Phil Potempa's daily entertainment news column
2013-06-27T00:00:00Z OFFBEAT: Emerald City a rhyming success with 'Cat in the Hat'By Philip Potempa philip.potempa@nwi.com, (219) 852-4327 nwitimes.com

I never saw the 2003 feature film version of "The Cat in the Hat" starring Mike Myers as the trickster feline of Dr. Seuss' imagination, along with the talents of Dakota Fanning, Alec Baldwin, Paris Hilton and Sean Hayes.

As for the 30-minute animated TV special aired in 1971, in tribute to the original 1957 storybook, I only remember a few bits and pieces. It starred the voice of comedian Allan Sherman, just two years before his death in 1973, as the sagging top hat wearing cat. It remains one the works he's best remembered for, along with his silly 1963 song hit "Hello, Muddah! Hello, Fadduh! A Letter from Camp."

But there's a far better option right now to grab the attention of audience members of all ages eager to be introduced or re-introduced (as in my case) to this favorite tail/tale.

Actor Danny Taylor dons the towering striped hat to play the title character in a Chicago run of "The Cat in the Hat." Taylor was so fantastic in the title role earlier this year, Broadway in Chicago invited the actor and the rest of the cast to star in a another staging.

The popular play, originally produced by the National Theatre of Great Britain and adapted by Katie Mitchell, is a treasured new production created by the clever minds at Emerald City Theatre Company that played at the Apollo Theater Jan. 26 until May 19.

With the entire cast along for the ride, the next leg of performances, hosted by Broadway in Chicago at Broadway Playhouse at Water Tower Place, are running the entire summer until Sept. 1.

The show runs about 45 minutes, which includes a "talk back time" with the cast following the 35 minute performance.

From games and mischief to Thing One and Thing Two, Taylor's Cat brings all sorts of trouble to a quiet and boring rainy day for Sally and her brother to have to explain to their mother.

Audiences are encouraged to arrive early and invited to be part of pre‐show activities, including coloring sheet tables in the lobby.

Ernie Nolan, director for this run, does a tremendous job incorporating many fun and new surprises into the show, while also assuring the original story lines remain the same.

Joining Taylor in the cast are brother and sister team Liam and Lily Dahlborn, playing Thing One and Thing Two, alternating performances with other young talents. The Dahlborn duo are entertaining forces, with a talent that easily overtakes any room.

Actor Michael Richardson and actress Giselle Vaughn make a fine team as the little boy and his sister Sally who invite trouble, in the form of a feline, into their home on a rainy day.

Rounding out the cast is the very funny Erik Strebig playing the fussing goldfish, who tries to warn his child charges about the dangers of inviting a stranger into the home. Strebig, suited with a fishbowl and puppet on his hand, performs a perfect balancing act to showcase his one personality with that of his fin and fishtail counterpart.

Tickets are $16‐$22 at (800) 775‐2000 or broadwayinchicago.com or emeraldcitytheatre.com. Tickets available for groups of 10 or more by calling Broadway In Chicago Group Sales at (312) 977‐1710.

The opinions expressed are solely those of the writer. He can be reached at philip.potempa@nwi.com or (219) 852-4327.

Copyright 2014 nwitimes.com. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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