top of page


By Mark Valdez

Based on the book by Gary Soto

Co-commissioned and world premiere presented at New Jersey Performing Arts Center Newark, NY

Produced by Childsplay Theatre

From Tempe, Arizona

About the Company

Gary Soto’s hilarious book comes to life in this charming new play about Chato, the coolest low-riding cat in the barrio. When a family of ratoncitos, or little mice, moves in next door, Chato invites them over for dinner. What they don’t know is that they are on the menu! But things don’t go quite as planned for Chato. The mice bring a surprise guest of their own who may be more than this cool cat can swallow.


With Spanish integrated throughout the performance, the play captures the flavor of life in the barrio and brings Soto’s characters to life with the help of puppets and animation. The book has been recognized as one of the best 100 books of the last 100 years by the New York Public Library and writer/director of the play Mark Valdez says "“My hope is that audiences will walk away thinking about what it means to be a good neighbor and a good friend.” 

Best for: Grades K-5th (Ages 5-10 years)

Audience Size: Medium & Large Venues

Please contact us to watch an archival full length recording.

Curriculum Connections

  • Language Arts: Reading, Writing, Grammar

  • Fine Arts: Music, Dance, and Performance

  • History/Social Studies: Chicano culture and heritage

  • Social & Emotional Learning: Self-Awareness, Social Awareness, Self Management, and Relationship Skills.

Curriculum Connections

Outreach and Workshops

Sensory Friendly Performances

This performance is available as a “sensory friendly” or “relaxed” performance if arranged with the company in advance and with specific direction as to what adjustments are necessary for your venue.


Minimum Technical Requirements

  • Load In: 5 hours (with prehang)

  • Crew Needs: 4 to Load In, 3 to run the show, 3 for strike

  • Min. Stage Size: 30 feet by 30 feet by 11 feet high 

  • Sound: Sound reinforcement with 8 available inputs, 4 minimum outputs

  • Lighting: Theatrical Lighting required. Childsplay will provide plot.

  • Load Out:  1.5 hours

Minimum Tech

Artistic Team

Artistic Team

Written and Directed by Mark Valdez
Based on the book by Gary Soto

Co-commissioned and world premiere presented at New Jersey Performing Arts Center Newark, NY

Produced by Childsplay Theatre

Scenic Design: Tanya Orellana
Costume Design: Connie Furr
Lighting Design: William Kirkham
Sound Design: Christopher Neumeyer
Projection Design: Jake Pinholster
Stage Manager: Mo Labiaga Treviño

Cast TBA

Critical Acclaim


"The play is hilarious and had our entire family laughing out loud! "  Full review here.

“My hope is that audiences will walk away thinking about what it means to be a good neighbor and a good friend,” he says. “Throughout the play, characters make assumptions about each other, mostly that someone looks ‘dangerous.’ Inevitably, those assumptions get challenged and debunked once they start talking to each other and getting to know each other. Perhaps at some level, this is just human nature. But at this moment, where fears and anxieties are running high, it feels like a good reminder to get to know our neighbors.” writer/director Mark Valdex - read the full interview here.

"The plot revolves around Chato’s love of cooking and whether the cats can resist the urge to eat a family of mice who’ve just moved in next door. But the play’s bigger message is about learning to respect and appreciate the value of diversity and, yes, why it’s wrong to eat your neighbors." Read more about the development of the production here

Past Tours: The Snowy Day and Other Stories; Maddi's Fridge; Tomás and the Library Lady; Go, Dog. Go!; The Cat in the Hat; Schoolhouse Rock Live! (national tour in 2014- 2015); and Rock the Presidents

Since 1977, Childsplay has been committed to its mission: “To create theatre so strikingly original in form, content or both that it instills in young people an enduring awe, love, and respect for the medium, thus preserving imagination and wonder, those
hallmarks of childhood that are the keys to the future.” 

Childsplay is a resident professional company of adult actors who teach and perform for young audiences and families. The internationally respected theatre company believes that young people deserve to experience theatre of the highest artistic quality. Childsplay has performed for more than 5 million children and adults and has grown to serve an average annual audience of 250,000 children, teachers and families. Childsplay's recent national tours include Tomás and the Library Lady in the 2007-2008, 2013-2014, and
2018-2019 seasons, Peter and the Wolf in 2009-2010, Ferdinand the Bull in 2010- 2011, Rock the Presidents in 2012 – 2013, 2016 2017, Schoolhouse Rock Live in 2014-2015 and Dr. Seuss’ The Cat in the Hat in 2015- 2016, 2016 - 2017. 

In addition to Childsplay’s professional productions, its educational programming has expanded dramatically in response to the needs of school partners. Over 1,500 young people attend classes each year in the Childsplay Theatre Academy and nearly 5,000 students experience drama directly in their classrooms through Childsplay’s extensive education programming for students and teachers. These programs emphasize experiential learning, language acquisition and literacy competency – essential precursors to overall academic achievement and long-term success across all subject areas. Childsplay believes that by continuing to create strikingly original theatre and connecting to young people’s learning potential, we can build a generation of creative learners, innovative thinkers and dynamic leaders.

For more information, please visit the company’s website:

Company Background

Anchor 1

Past Productions

bottom of page