Old is Made New Again for THE CAT IN THE HAT

by RoxyRegionalTheatre on March 11, 2016

The children in Dr. Seuss’s The Cat in the Hat live in a home which was once Little Red Riding Hood’s grandmother’s from Into the Woods. The Granny was played by my dear friend, the late Mary Harpel.

The little girl in The Cat in the Hat, Emily Rourke, sports a costume which Debby Dowlen made and wore as Polly in our first production of The Boyfriend back in 1985.

Meredith Gildrie fills in gaps for us, making costumes for The Cat and Things 1 and 2. We often bring items from home — this time, two pairs of red socks, one for The Cat (Michael C. Brown) and one for The Boy (Lacey Connell). These things never come home again, and that’s fine. They serve their purpose.

The milk crates I pilfered off Columbus Avenue in 1972, and the bentwood chairs came from Patrick O’Neal’s Ginger Man following a fire. Everything was written off as too damaged to be of any use to anyone. But being only charred and partially water-stained, I told the manager I could make use of them.

My best friend Skip carried four and I managed six. We walked up forty blocks, in the dead of night, with a total of ten bentwood chairs under our arms. Riding up in the elevator to Skip’s apartment, he turned to me and said, “Now I know how Ethel Mertz felt.”

The milk crates have served a multitude of purposes, and the bentwoods, after numerous repairs, have appeared in more shows than I have. A simple bentwood is as timeless as the golden bamboo, red velvet-seated opera chairs designed and used by Jackie Kennedy. I often wish I had a set.

I had misplaced or simply thoughtlessly thrown away my defense of the standards which would make a field trip to the Roxy’s The Magnificent Ambersons and The Taming of the Shrew more appealing to educators by meeting the curriculum requirements. This effort had not been an easy one, and the loss was headache-making with a side of depression.

But, having a free hour before Doris Baumgartner’s yoga class at the “Y,” I sat in my car with my lights on and worked to remember the work I had lost. When I started the car, it made that multi-clicking sound as I tried to turn it over but couldn’t.

Unsolicited, a young soldier called out, “I’ve got you covered on this.” He came, jumper cables in hand, revived my battery, and left as quickly as he had come. Luckily I had a bag of animal crackers for his children, who appeared. This appearance of an angel in disguise has not been uncommon in my life.

This all happened after a glorious first performance of The Cat in the Hat. I felt the exhilarating joy of success which the enthusiastic students gave to the performance. The Dr. Seuss classic takes the stage again tomorrow, March 12, at 2:00pm, and next Saturday, March 19, at 2:00pm.

See you at the theatre!

[John McDonald]

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