"Puss in Boots" is a classic fairy tale with an absurd plot, loveable characters, humorous dialogue and a happy ending.
The play, to be performed by Actors' Theatre of Columbus, opens at 8 p.m. Thursday, July 19, in Schiller Park and will be performed Thursdays through Sundays through Aug. 5 in the park's amphitheater.
Philip J. Hickman, artistic director for Actors' Theatre, said the troupe is performing the adaptation by Ludwig Tieck. Hickman is co-directing the show with Adam Simon, managing director of the German Village-based theater company.
The play centers on Hinze, one slick cat with a silver tongue and a loveable, if not so bright owner, Gottlieb.
They have great affection for one another, and the feline uses his wiles to great effect to help his master.
"It's all through wit and tricks," Hickman said. "The cat isn't a genie. The cat is along the lines of a classical trickster character."
Hinze even talks others into giving him a stylish pair of boots, which elevates his haughty persona.
"This is a pretty absurd comedy," Hickman said. "This is actually a play within a play."
There are critics watching and commenting on the play and the playwright also is in the audience, Hickman said.
Hinze, meanwhile, is a famous foreign actor playing a cat, giving the character a level of complexity it deserves, said Beth Josephsen, who's playing Hinze.
Hinze does a lot for Gottlieb, not the least of which is negotiating with Bearbug, an ogre who has his own kingdom. Bearbug is tricked, more or less, into giving up his kingdom. That is the break Gottlieb was looking for, because he needs his own kingdom to marry his love interest, a princess from a nearby realm.
"I think it's fun to play a cat," said Josephsen, adding that the physicality of the role was enjoyable.
"It's not the most challenging role I've ever played," she said. "It's more challenging playing an animal over a human, but I'm still playing a human who's playing an actor who's playing a cat."
Hickman said the play's humor should appeal across generations.
"It's got a lot of jokes the kids will think are great and a lot of jokes adults will think are hilarious, too," he said.