Ah yes, it’s the first day of school. And the kids, kitties really, gather for kindergarten not knowing what to expect. Don’t worry. There’s nothing scary. They’re going to have fun. Expect to have a lot yourself at world-premiering Pete The Cat, The Musical colorfully taking center stage at The Rose.
The show steps lively and sounds really good because Allison Leyton-Brown wrote a bunch of cute songs, and all get sung just fine by the six-member cast. Leyton-Brown has a feel for friendly, timeless pop stuff. Good melodies. Amiable lyrics, too.
Suzanne Miller wrote the script spinning off from the shiny pages of best-selling children’s books vividly illustrated by James Dean (not the movie star) who came up with the idea. Eric Litwin wrote the words. See, Pete The Cat: Rocking in My School and Pete The Cat: I Love My White Shoes are really popular. Best-sellers, even, although uncredited in the program book. Pete goes to school. Yep, Pete has white shoes.
Don’t expect anything complicated. I mean, these kitties are kids, huh? See Pete sing. See Bibi dance. Watch Olive play. Watch Andrew try to take a nap. Listen to Sasha’s wonderful voice. It’s a class where everybody likes everybody and enjoys doing things together. Pete is just mixing in with his friends. It’s not about Pete, really
But, uh-oh! Pete’s shoes keep changing colors. And the whole room changes too. Wow. It’s magic.
Also magic is a trip to the library where great big books open up and show fascinating wonders. Isn’t it nice that Miller wants the visitors in the audience to learn what a marvelous thing is a library? And wasn’t it a good idea that Miller shows the audience that there’s nothing to be afraid of in going to school for the first time?
Joshua Lloyd Parker makes Pete a happy buddy. And Lauren Krupski as Sasha really knows how to sing. Sue Gillespie Boonton came up with the dance ideas; she did them well. Plus, as Mom, she’s full of life. Rob Urbinati directed. He makes it all flow and sparkle.
For one hour, even the tiniest tykes will love it. And the biggest people certainly can be charmed.
FYIs : Leyton-Brown wrote about felines before: Peg+Cat for PBS. And other TV music includes that for The Good Wife and Prime Time. She’s had musical hands in seven off-Broadway shows. And people say that she’s a groovy pianist, with gigs at Birdland and she’s been keyboarding rock groups. http://www.allisonleytonbrown.com/
Suzanne Miller returns to The Rose. She adapted Leo Lionni's Frederick here in March last year. She also wrote Young Love; Flirting with the Deep End; Beatrice; The Handwriting, The Soup and The Hats; and Abigail's Atlas, and has had productions in New York, Los Angeles, Seattle, Providence, New Haven and at the Edinburgh Fringe Festival. http://wsfilms.com/people/suzanne-miller/
Director Rob Urbinati is the director. The UNO grad has earnest Omaha credits, e.g. he staged The Tempest for Nebraska Shakespeare last year. Plus Toxic Avenger: the Musical at Blue Barn along with several Max Sparbar plays there. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Rob_Urbinati
Pete the Cat runs through Sept. 27 at The Rose Theater, 2001 Farnam Street. Fri: 7 p.m., Sat: 2 p.m. & 5 p.m, Sun: 2 p.m. Tickets: $18 http://www.rosetheater.org