Seattle Children’s Theatre’s Where the Wild Things Are, based on the Maurice Sendak children's classic, is a complete delight even by SCT's high standards. This highly engaging, interactive production from Vancouver, Canada’s Presentation House Theatre is an excellent introduction to theater for young kids. Be prepared for a room full of roars and unlimited fun.
As soon as the Narrator enthusiastically welcomes the audience to the play and to their seats on the colorful "islands" on the floor, the box on which she sits starts to move. From this moment on, the kids (and adults) are completely under the spell of the actors — participating, answering their questions, helping them transform Max’s room into a forest, and playing Wild Things themselves.
The staging is inventive, a story within a story. When the Narrator starts reading the text of the picture book Where the Wild Things Are, an adult-size boy walks in. He is obviously late, so the narrator asks him to sit on one of islands and stay quiet, and she continues to read. The boy talks and shouts at his imaginary dog on the stage, interrupting the narrator frequently. He is sent back to his spot and asked to stay quiet. Just as the narrator reads about Max’s mischief, the boy walks back on stage, with ears and a tail à la wolf, bringing Sendak’s book to life.
As the production unfolds, the actors help the audience explore the feelings and emotions of Max. “Why do you think he asked the animals to go to bed without supper?” “Why does he want to go home?”
They also lead the audience into their own imaginations when they ask them to turn into Wild Things. At the show on the opening night, this led to some very creative wild things from the enthusiastic kids in attendance: “Fashion Wild Thing,” “Crazy-Tall Wild Thing,” “Not-so-wild Wild Thing.”
The acting is outstanding: Linda A Carson, who performs from Jan. 7–21 as both the Narrator and Max's mother is very welcoming, calm and engaging. She can create, and control, a boisterous audience. As Max, Raes Calvert is endearing and brings out the innocence, imagination and mischief of the character with ease. Both the actors skillfully improvise their performances based on the reaction from the audience.
Parents should know
• The play is an hour long with no breaks. If possible, use restrooms before the show.
• No food and drinks are allowed inside the theater.
• The play is recommended for kids age 4 and older, which seems appropriate. The audience is asked to roar, use their claws and wear wild masks during parts of the play, which may be scary for younger kids (though parents will be the best judge).
• Colorful masks are handed to and retrieved from the audience during the play. If your kid enjoys masks, there are coloring sheets of the masks in the active audience guide.
• There are two places for the audience to sit for Where the Wild Things Are, a participatory area around the stage and a regular bench seating area. Those who do not want to participate in the play for any reason can use the bench seating area.
• Check out the active audience guide to the show for more great information, activities and teaching tips.
If you go ...
Where and when: Charlotte Martin Theatre, at Seattle Center, through February 28, 2016
Tickets: Adults, $22 to $40; child, $22 to $33. Buy online.
Parking: There’s plenty of paid street and public parking available, although you may find it difficult to find parking close to the theater. If you can, take the bus.