Amari Lewis, Lucas Lowry, Noah Lindquist, T. Eric Morris and Bri Woods in “Pete the Cat.” (Photo by Jim Vaiknoras, courtesy of The Coterie Theatre)
The Coterie Theater has carved out an impressive niche for itself, consistently producing work that can genuinely be described as “fun for all ages” – equally appealing to children, tweens and even teens, yet engaging enough to entertain. the parents. Their latest musical, “Pete the Cat”, is significantly younger than other recent shows, but is still of the same quality that audiences expect. This show is recommended for families with children aged three and up, but younger viewers will likely fall out of the target audience long before they hit double digits. Still, thanks in large part to Coterie’s top-notch talent pool and impressive production value, the accompanying adults should have a very enjoyable time as well.
“Pete the Cat” is based on Kimberly and James Dean’s picture book series of the same name. The musical sees the titular character – a guitar-playing, sneaker-wearing cat played by Noah Lindquist – picked up off the streets and sent to live with the Biddle family in an effort to teach the cool cat some manners. Pete reluctantly shows up to serve his sentence but (surprise, surprise) ends up developing an affinity for humans.
The rest of the small cast rotates between several roles. T. Eric Morris and Bri Woods primarily play Biddle’s parents, with Amari Lewis (recently seen shining in Coterie’s “The SpongeBob Musical” with Lindquist) as Olive Biddle, their young daughter whose intense love for Pete is matched, tragically, only by the strength of her allergies to cats. Lucas Lowry rounds out the immensely talented cast as his brother, Jimmy Biddle, whose excessively Type-A obsession with perfection makes him the perfect foil for the laid-back chat.
Director Heidi Van chooses to keep things simple, cleverly allowing her outstanding cast to be the center of attention throughout. Along with some charming sets by Carlos Aceves, most of the scenes are staged via transformative lighting by Jarrett Bertoncin, which transports the audience from the ocean to space and everywhere in between.
For 55 minutes, the cast maintains a remarkable energy, holding the attention of its young and delighted audience and hitting every note of the show’s groovy ’60s-inspired soundtrack. (“Cat people” in the audience should be aware that you could very well find yourself singing particularly catchy selections from the show to your pets for weeks afterwards.)
“Pete the Cat” wouldn’t appeal much to single adults, but for those with young children, it’s a great option for an evening (or afternoon or morning, with matinees all throughout the week). This character has a devoted following of young readers and based on the cheers, applause and enthusiastic greetings from the audience, the show lives up to their expectations while giving the adults plenty of fun.
“Pete the Cat” runs through May 22, 2022 at the Coterie Theater at the Crown Center, 2450 Grand Blvd. For more information, call (816) 474-6552 or visit thecoterie.org