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What should I say about the show that the Arkansas Arts Center Children's Theatre opened Friday night? That you'll get a kick out of Puss in Boots? That it's the cat's meow?

Both of those are true. And sometimes Bradley Anderson's staging and Keith Smith's clever adaptation of "Charlie" Perrault's 17th century feline fairy tale is hip. But sometimes it trips. And, like most cats, sometimes it can't quite decide whether it wants to come in or go out.

Where it succeeds, it mostly involves the excellent physical comic abilities of Chad Bradford in the title role (and in the title boots). Puss, a flamboyant feline, with the help of a trio of sidekits (Lauren Linton, Aleigha Morton and Moriah Patterson), sings, dances, sidles, swashes, buckles and uses his innate cleverness to cozen a gluttonous king (Jeremy Matthey), his dimwitted daughter (Katie Campbell) and even a shape-shifting ogre to help to fortune and bliss his cloddish miller's-son master (a fine job by newbie Nick Spencer).

There's sometimes the underlying sense that the stage blocking (where the actors are supposed to be and when) is just a little slapdash, and the lyrics in the musical numbers, ably choreographed by Erin Fowler and well danced and sung, don't always measure up to Smith's script.

Erin Larkin has done a fine job with the costumes, the boots included. Opening night technical gaffes included some microphone glitches and, peculiarly, some missing down spots (three musical kitties downstage in the opening number, but only one of them lit). Miranda Young's set is the ultimate cat palace (litter box not included).

Puss in Boots, the Children's Theatre 2015-16 season opener, runs 7 p.m. Friday and 2 p.m. Saturday-Sunday through Oct. 4 at the Arts Center in MacArthur Park, East Ninth and Commerce streets, Little Rock. Ticket information is available by calling (501) 372-4000 or online at ArkansasArtsCenter.org/theatre.

Metro on 09/19/2015

Print Headline: Puss in Boots puts best foot forward

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