Colorful dogs will be wagging their tails on Marshall Performing Arts Center’s main stage this Thursday. Directed by Rebecca Katz Harwood, the six-person cast will bring the classic Dr. Seuss book to life. The play has been adapted from the original book with room for each production to make it their own. The story follows the antics of six dogs and all have equally important parts in the play. This means all of the actors have a chance to shine.
One of the best parts about the play, according to Katz Harwood, is the way it is limited to the words in the book. This means the actors have to rely heavily on their physical acting.
“So much of it is physical action, so in that sense it’s been really fun,” Katz Harwood said. “It’s really been a lot of play for us to decide how we want to take what they have given us in the script and bring it to life.”
The actors performing in the show say that the physicality required has been both challenging and exciting.
“It’s a chance for me to really enjoy playing, which is what got me into theater in the first place,” said Glee Schultz, a junior pursuing a BFA in acting. She is playing Blue Dog.
Senior acting major Sarah Rabe is using the skills she learned in Katz Harwood’s physical comedy class to her role as Hattie/Spotted Dog.
“It’s amazing how you can create a character with so few words,” Rabe said.
Of course, the fun onstage isn’t limited to the actors. Because the actors are limited to the words in the book, the director also decided to stay true to the clean, bold lines and bright colors of the original illustrations.
“By keeping it simpler, we create even more space for the audience members’ imagination to come in and complete the journey with us,” Katz Harwood said.
This doesn’t meant that the play is simple, though. Scenic/props designer Jenna Mady created a frame around the stage to resemble the “frame” created when reading a book. Andrew Kust, music director, provides underscoring and entertainment by playing the keyboard onstage.
“The music gives a sense of energy and pace to the action,” Katz Harwood said. “The music gives it more sophistication and more depth. It’s not overly simplistic.”
This means that the show — which is able to reach children as young as preschool — isn’t limited to children.
“For me, the best children’s entertainment operates on multiple levels,” Katz Harwood adds. Her goal in directing the play was that she would be able to appeal to those varying levels, ultimately attracting anyone from elementary to college students and “out-in-the-world adults.”
Families will be a key audience for the show, though, and performance times have been changed to reflect that. Rather than the normal start time of 7:30 p.m., the play will now start at 6:30 p.m. and there will be three matinee performances instead of one. The earlier time, according to Katz Harwood, is “so kiddos can get home for bedtime.”
The performance will run approximately 75 minutes with no intermission.
“I’m hoping we will get audience members who will come and just enjoy this kind of fun, loopy, whacky, funny show with us whether they know the book or not,” Katz Harwood said. “And I think it’s a lovely spirit booster in this seventh inning of winter.”
February 5-7 and 12-14 6:30 p.m. Mainstage Theatre February 7, 8, 14 2:00 p.m. MainStage Theatre
BY APRILL EMIG Staff Reporter