Seattle Children's Theatre's world premiere of Adventures with Spot celebrates the essence of the much-beloved books by Eric Hill with energetic performances and faithful recreations of Spot’s wondrous world.
The show, which will be performed through May 4, skips along at an easy yet spirited pace, sampling many stories and themes from the series. It’s aimed at 2–7 year olds, but older kids and adults will get swept up in the enthusiasm and multitude of surprises in store. Between the set design, use of props, multi-tasking cast and sheer ingenuity, this show is riveting.
Adventures with Spot is anchored by the very likeable and up-for-anything Spot, played by Don Darryl Rivera, who is especially great at displaying nuanced puppy-like qualities that are fresh and not overplayed. At 75 minutes, the show is a length that typically inspires the wiggles. And luckily, there is a 15-minute intermission should you or your kids need to stretch or visit the restroom.
Spot’s lift-the-flap books inspire “discovery” which comes alive through the vibrant stage design and the anticipation present every time a door opens, a box comes out or a character interacts with a new prop. A live piano accompaniment sets the tone and adds to the spontaneity but never overwhelms. (The only moment of peril that I thought my 3-year-old might react negatively to was two-thirds of the way through when Spot is separated from his Dad and gets lost in the forest.)
The show makes full use of its cast through song, tap dance, magic, slapstick, puppetry and great prop management. Dialogue is kept to a minimum. Standout moments include Spot and his dad trying on a coat, the baking of an extraordinary cake, a rhythmic bouncing ball routine, and bumper cars at the circus.
Characters played by actors in the show include Steve the Monkey, Helen the Hippo, Tom the Crocodile, Mr. Kangaroo, Spot’s parents and grandparents as well as other creatures played by puppets.
Kudos go to costume designer, Deborah Trout, who captured an inspired look and feel. The costumes strike the balance of allowing the actors to look mostly human but providing clever detail to indicate the animal they are based upon. Also, hats off to the cast on opening night for covering the abrupt exit of Rivera (Spot) when his costume tore and had to be quickly repaired off stage.
As underscored by the expressions on the young faces around me, Director Linda Hartzell and team have successfully brought to life a lovable character and his world with the utmost care and enthusiasm.
If you go ...
When: Adventures with Spot runs through Sunday, May 5, 2013. Thursday-Friday shows at 7 p.m.; Saturdays 2 and 5:30 p.m.; Sundays 11 a.m. and 2:30 p.m.
Where: Seattle Children’s Theatre at the Seattle Center
Tickets and information: $20–$36. purchase at sct.org
About the author: Kali Sakai is a freelance writer and blogger who lives with her family in Seattle.