Dr. Seuss’ THE CAT IN THE HAT Opens Tomorrow

by RoxyRegionalTheatre on March 4, 2016

Growing up in Memphis and attending parochial school, I envied all those public school kids who went on field trips to the Pink Palace Museum, Brooks Memorial Art Gallery, or even to the zoo. The nuns took us across the school parking lot to Mass each morning — that was the extent of our field trips.

Two teachers I remember clearly are the nun who took the ruler to my knuckles and, fondly, the Christian brother who took us on two field trips. One trip was to see Richard Burton’s Hamlet presented live and projected on a local movie screen; the second, a dress rehearsal of Memphis Opera’s Don Giovanni. One hooked me on Shakespeare, the other on the opera.

Now I see clearly the many hoops today’s educators must jump through in order to juggle students onto a bus and into a venue like the Roxy, meeting curriculum standards notwithstanding.

I want students to see, hear and experience Shakespearean classics like The Taming of the Shrew or a Pulitzer Prize-winning novel like The Magnificent Ambersons live onstage. The educators have standards, but as I look over which standards are applicable for the times we are presenting William Shakespeare’s The Taming of the Shrew and Booth Tarkington’s The Magnificent Ambersons, I find numerous examples which would augment while justifying a field trip.

I had asked retired educators Bruce and Debbie Jobe to do the groundwork on meeting the standards. I’ve been making a concerted effort to make the beauty of Shakespeare accessible to today’s audiences — i.e., modern dress, cutting jokes which could only be understood by an Elizabethan audience, and omitting most mythological references which would require footnotes or stopping the action for explanations.

The Magnificent Ambersons, the Pulitzer Prize-winning novel by Booth Tarkington, was workshopped by local students Sidney McCarty, Jesse Boyle, Grace Davis, Allison Ferebee, Truman Jepson, Jacob Johnson, Lauren Mund, Madeline O’Connor, Tanner Sigears, Georgia Smith, Austin Stewart, Jewel Stewart and Amy Wyer — which makes it that much more important to support — and stars local teens Truman Jepson, Montgomery Central senior, and Lauren Mund, Clarksville High freshman.

Last month we honored Black History Month and Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., with Blues in the Night and The Mountaintop. Now, for March, Dr. Seuss takes the stage when we produce The Cat in the Hat. Only the man who wrote Green Eggs and Ham could have come up with the idea of The Cat in the Hat.

Michael C. Brown plays the mischievous feline, while Emily Rourke and Lacey Connell join in the chaos as the girl and boy who have nothing to do on a rainy day while Mother’s away. Jackie Ostick and Ryan Bowie are Things 1 and 2, and everyone at one time or another plays the judgmental fish.

Tomorrow (Saturday, March 5) at 2pm is the first of only three public performances. The Cat in the Hat also plays the following two Saturdays, March 12 and 19, at 2pm.

See you at the theatre!

[John McDonald]

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