If you’ve ever been involved in any kind of large-scale production — school theater, professional presentation, family event — you’ll appreciate the complexities of doing it twice in one day. Recently Chicago’s acclaimed Emerald City Theatre premiered two different shows on the same day: Dr. Seuss’ Cat in the Hat and Frog Prince, Continued.
Dr. Suess’ Cat in the Hat was as whimsical as you’d expect. The actors played like they were in your backyard rather than on formal stage. It was a joyful, colorful experience with the actors using all parts of the Apollo Theatre as their playground.
Our girls’ favorite part was actually right in the beginning. Fish does a dance number that just kept them laughing. The music bounced in their heads for days. They couldn’t stop talking about it.
At its core The Cat in the Hat is a story about responsibility. After the show the Cat talked to the audience and played games. The question of who was the most responsible came up. Of course the answer is Fish was the most responsible. Our girls thought it was so funny that the pet was the most responsible.
The second show to open was a world premiere, original musical production. The Frog Prince, Continued! is the story about a frog who became a prince, but is having trouble finding his happily ever after. Feeling like he doesn’t quite fit in, Frog Prince heads out to find his true self. What follows is a magical visit to an enchanted forest that is filled with funny characters you’ll recognize from other fairy tales.
The great thing about The Frog Prince, Continued! is its ability to weave in other characters in a such a subtle way that you immediately feel like you know the story. The frog prince could be any child or adult who feels like he or she does not quite fit in. You feel for him when he tries to fit in, but it just doesn’t work out the way he thought it would. His journey goes from discomfort with who he is to accepting his true self, but it’s a funny, unpredictable winding path.
We’re people who read the programs before each show. Our girls had one from Dr. Suess’ Cat in the Hat and one from The Frog Prince, Continued! I heard them whispering and switching back and forth between programs. I said, “What is so interesting?” They discovered that actor Michael Richardson was in both productions.
He performed as the boy in Dr. Suess’ Cat in the Hat in the morning, took a short break and came back as Eugene, the princess’ assistant, in the afternoon production. I was impressed that Emerald City Theatre was able to pull off two new productions in one day, but I was more impressed that one actor was able to pull off two completely different roles in one day.
These are great performances for families, birthday parties or scout troops. During the afternoon show there were two birthday parties with girls giggling and enjoying the show.
For more information about either production, visit http://www.emeraldcitytheatre.com/.
Disclosure: We did attend the media previews and received complimentary tickets. My words and opinions are my own.