Three actors play kittens in a play at the Children's Theatre
Danny Gay, Brie Roche, and Mackenzie Peacock in "Three Little Kittens," directed by Erica Murphy at the Children's Museum and Theatre of Maine |Courtesy of Children's Theatre & Museum of Maine/Katie Day)
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A wintry mystery is afoot at the Children’s Theatre and Museum of Maine: Three little kittens have lost some of their outerwear! 

They’re soon on the case to find those mittens, and we’re invited into the sleuthing in the interactive detective play “Three Little Kittens.” Based on the Mother Goose rhyme, and directed by Erica Murphy at Maddy’s Theatre, it’s sweet-hearted little treat of a play for theatergoers aged 0-6. 

three actors play kittens at the children's museum and theatre of maine
Mackenzie Peacock, Danny Gay, and Brie Roche in “Three Little Kittens,” directed by Erica Murphy at the Children’s Museum and Theatre of Maine. (Photo courtesy Children’s Museum & Theatre of Maine/Katie Day)

Our kitten detectives are Patches (Mackenzie Peacock), Pippa (Rachel Gallagher), and Pinwheel (Danny Gay), all delightfully animated and meowing their hearts out in furry ears and tails. Our actors luxuriate in kittenish physicality, stretching, tumbling and pouncing as they search their living room for clues. 

Best of all, the kittens want our help: Young theatergoers are given an envelope of mystery-solving goodies, and the kittens regularly solicit their ideas and invite them to move and do. 

At the show I attended, small sleuths happily waved tiny magnifying glasses in the air; offered the kittens advice (someone suspected “a panther”); and even, meta-theatrically, questioned the very premise of the mittens (“But you’re kittens! You have fur!”).

The kittens also receive the insights of several helpful animal neighbors (winningly represented by puppets). And as the kittens gradually deduce what befell their mittens, their story — like so many Children’s Theatre stories — honors the values of forgiveness, reciprocity and community. 

But the best part of the show, according to a young theater companion, is simply “the mystery itself.” 

And it’s hard to argue with that. Who doesn’t love a mystery, especially one that can be solved with such deliciously intricate tricks and warm community feeling? Once again, Maddy’s Theatre gives us all plenty to purr about.

“Three Little Kittens,” by Ernie Nolan, based on the nursery rhyme; directed by Erica Murphy | Children’s Museum and Theatre of Maine, Thompson’s Point, Portland | Through Dec. 30 |

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