The show centers around Coco, fire-cat-in-training, and includes fun tunes and some safety lessons, too.
The job of firefighter has changed in recent decades, as the number of fires has declined and the need for more paramedic services has risen. But some things about the profession stay the same, including how excited young children get playing with toy fire trucks — or spotting the real thing with the brave people aboard who are roaring off to battle a blaze or tackle another emergency.
The dandy new Seattle Children’s Theatre musical “Fire Station 7” conjures for little ones all the familiar trappings of firefighting (the gear, the truck, the pole, the Dalmatian dog mascot).
Seattle playwright Vincent Delaney’s script, based on a concept by Delaney and directror Linda Hartzell, is set in a 1950s fire house. And it also charms with the humorous antics of an easily distracted feline who is a fire-cat-in-training, while neatly packing in helpful lessons on fire safety and bouncy golden-oldie pop tunes.
‘Fire Station 7’
by Vince Delaney. Through May 21, Seattle Children’s Theatre, Seattle Center; tickets from $22 (206-441-3322 or sct.org).
The compact set concocted by designer Jeffrey Cook for the Eve Alvord Theatre is a small wonder. It boasts a shiny mini-truck complete with flashing red light and siren, coils of hoses, lockers to stash other gear, and a stove which, at one point, is cause for alarm itself.
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The latter incident is only one of the jams the tiger-striped tabby cat Coco, played with abundant sassy charm and cat-like moves by Jayne Muirhead, gets herself into. There’s a cat-in-the-hat mischievous streak in Coco, and she’s very easily distracted – especially when the station dog (a sneaky Rob Burgess) tries to sabotage her with catnip and cake.
But Coco is a loveable screwup who can rescue people and animals in ways only a kitty could. And she’s an attentive student too, as the fire crew (Greg McCormick Allen, Nicole Beerman and Rudy Roushdi) teach her the basic rules of their trade, and such common sense lessons as: Don’t leave an oven on and unattended while you’re napping.
Periodically the cast launches into merry, bopping renditions of “Rockin’ Robin” or “Yakety Yak,” and the clever, colorful puppets devised by Annett Mateo (including another kitty stuck in a tree, and a flightless bird trapped in a burning building) appear.
The audience members at a recent matinee skewed kindergarten age, and were enthralled throughout by “Fire Station 7” — especially tickled by the agile slapstick bits in Hartzell’s expert staging. Film snippets of firefighters from long ago, commandeering water trucks pulled by teams of horses, were also a hit.
Developed with help from the Young People’s Theatre of Toronto, “Fire Station 7” reaches a perfect balance of educational lesson and crowd-pleasing musical theater. And the Seattle Fire Department is pitching in too: At some performances their fire trucks will be on display, and firefighters will participate in post-show chats.