Chicago Playworks for Families and Young Audiences presents Dr. Seuss' ‘The Cat in the Hat’

Special performance May 6 for children with autism and sensory sensitivities

Cat in the Hat
The Theatre School at DePaul University is offering a sensory-friendly performance of Dr. Seuss’ “The Cat in the Hat.”
CHICAGO — Bright lights, loud noises and shushes from the audience can make the theatre an unwelcoming place for children with sensory sensitivities. To soften those challenges, The Theatre School at DePaul University is offering a sensory-friendly performance of Dr. Seuss’ “The Cat in the Hat” on May 6 at 2 p.m. at the Merle Reskin Theatre in Chicago’s South Loop. Regular performances of the play run through May 26.

“There is a lack of theatrical opportunities for children with autism. So we’re very excited and proud to be doing this,” said theatre manager Leslie Shook. “‘The Cat in the Hat’ is a book many children read. They’re familiar with the characters, and the script is the book. So I think kids will enjoy seeing the story come to life before their very eyes.”

The sensory-friendly performance will incorporate modifications making it more accessible to children with autism or sensory sensitivities. Changes include dim, instead of dark, house lights. In addition, coordinators and performers will warn sensory-sensitive audience members in advance of any strobe lights, sudden noises, or loud effects, or they will simply eliminate them.

DePaul faculty and staff also created a quiet room with a puzzle rug and beanbag chairs where children can take a break. Faculty from DePaul’s College of Education coordinated with The Theatre School to create a safe space in the theatre.

The production tells the story of Sally and her brother, who are bored on a rainy day, when the Cat in the Hat appears with tricks and things and games to play. Their day is filled with mischief and imagination despite protests from their fish.

“It’s so charming to watch this,” Shook said. “With the costumes and the sets, it’s beautifully designed. I’m very excited to see it on our stage.” “The Cat in the Hat” is a part of The Theatre School's Chicago Playworks for Families and Young Audiences Series.

The production is directed by Jeff Mills, an assistant professor of movement and an award-winning actor, director, teacher, fight director and musician. He is best known for his work with the award-winning BOXTALES Theatre Company in Santa Barbara, California. As a core member of BOXTALES, Mills co-created 10 original works, including his direction of “OM: An Indian Tale of Good and Evil (The Ramayana)” and his portrayal of Odysseus in “The Odyssey.”

The cast features Emily Anderson (Thing 1), Lyndsey Betham (Sally), Gregory Fields (The Cat), Isabelle Jennings (Thing 2), Jack Lancaster (Narrator), Vinh Nguyen (Brother) and Harmony Zhang (The Fish).

The production team includes Jennifer Wernau (scenic design), Elizabeth Martinez (costume design), Alexandra Jonasse (lighting design), Haley Feiler (sound design), William Young (technical direction), Patricia Mahoney (dramaturgy) and Danny Fender (stage management).

“The Cat in the Hat” is onstage through May 26, at DePaul’s historic Merle Reskin Theatre, 60 E. Balbo Drive. Performances are Tuesdays and Thursdays at 10 a.m., and Saturdays at 2 p.m. Special Friday performances will occur April 27 and May 11 at 10 a.m. There is no May 5 performance. The show is recommended for ages 4 and older.

The May 10 performance will be audio described. The May 11 and 12 performances will be interpreted in American Sign Language. Call TTY: 773-325-7975 for more information.  A post-show discussion will follow the May 19 performance. Details are available at http://bit.ly/DPUcatinhat.

Tickets are $10. Subscriptions and group rates for 15 or more people are available. DePaul employees, alumni and college students receive a discount (with ID). Active military and their families receive a discount (with ID). Tickets are available at http://theatre.depaul.edu or by calling the box office at 312-922-1999.

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Source:
Leslie Shook
lshook@depaul.edu

Media Contact:
Kristin Claes Mathews
Kristin.mathews@depaul.edu
312-362-7735