Theatre Mirror Reviews - "CATS"

THE THEATER MIRROR, Boston's LIVE Theater Guide


"What Happened in Boston, Willie"

Reviews of Current Productions

entire contents 1997 by "Angel"


At the Shubert Theatre, Boston

Music by Andrew Lloyd Webber
Based on "Old Possum's Book of Practical Cats" by T.S. Eliot
Presented by Cameron Mackintosh, The Really Useful Company Ltd, David Geffen and the Shubert Organization

(in amphibolical order)

Alonzo/Rumpus Cat - Jonathan Stahl
Bustopher Jones/Asparagus/Growltiger - Craig Ricks
Bombalurina - Jeannie Abolt
Cassandra - Jeannifer Paige Chambers
Demeter - Amy Hamel
Grizabella - Natalie Toro
Jellylorum/Griddlebone - Kris Koop
Jennyanydots - Alice C. DeChant
Mistoffelees - Brian Barry
Mungojerrie - Jeff Lagace
Munkustrap - Jason Gillman
Old Deuteronomy - Doug Eskew
Plato/Macavity - Taylor Wicker
Pouncival - David Rosales
Rumpleteazer - Michele Tibbitts
Rum Tum Tugger - David Villella
Sillabub - Christie McCall
Skimbleshanks - David W. Eggers
Tumblebrutus - Mark R. Moreau
Victoria - Melissa Miller
The Cats Chorus - Stephen Breithaupt, Jeanne Montano, Lyn MacDonald, Brian Wilson
Standbys - Jim Ambler, Stephen Bay, Jessica Dillan, Michael Etzwiler,
Jeanne Montano, Parisa Ross, Chris Sell, Shanna Lyn Ursua

(Note: The role of Demeter was played by Shanna Lyn Ursua on the night I saw the show)

Production Staff

For this production:
Orchestrations by Stanley Lebowsky
Lighting Design reproduced by Rick Belzer
Scenic Design reproduced by Raymond Huessy
Choreography reproduced by T. Michael Reed and Richard Stafford
Direction reproduced by David Taylor

Executive Producers - R. Tyler Gatchell, Jr., Peter Neufeld
Casting by Johnson-Liff Associates
Orchestrations by David Cullen and Andrew Lloyd Webber
Production Musical Director - David Caddick
Musical Director - Shawn Stengel
Sound Design - Martin Levan
Lighting Design - David Hersey
Designed by John Napier
Associate Director and Choreographer - Gillian Lynne
Directed by Trevor Nunn

Technically Purr-fect CATS!

"CATS" at the Shubert Theatre in Boston is a must-see show for any theater lover!! "CATS" is a completely synchronous unit of technical perfection from the dancing to the singing, lighting and orchestration, costuming, set and direction. The artistic rendition of the purr-sonalities of the cats as they are introducted to us comprise the bulk of the show, but it is the minor affectations of the feline characters which makes the whole piece believable - the motions of licking a paw and wiping it over the head, stalking a certain cat-like way from place to place, facial gestures of non-vocal meows, reaching out to paw something, nudging through the legs of another, and many erotic innuendoes of the feline dances and interactions. A very entertaining show of dance and song, "CATS" is also a 3 hour long experience which might tax the attention span of young children.

Seeing "CATS" made me feel like I was given a universal translator and an invitation to the inner world of cats with a front row seat at the Jellicle Ball, a place where humans are traditionally not welcome. The empty stage opens showing multitudes of stars and strings of tiny holiday lights blinking all over the junkyard and around the whole theatre. Then the cats come prowling down the dark aisles with eery blinking lighted green alien eyes, examining the audience as if we are the entertainment. A pedestal adorned with green and blue lights sends spotlights down out of its base as it lifts from centerstage up to the ceiling, giving an impression of an alien ship, which accentuates the otherworldly feeling of the show.

Rum Tum Tugger is expertly and humorously played by David Villella. Tugger is a rebel punk troublemaker cat who likes to show off immensely and has a combination of Elvis singing and Michael Jackson-esque dancing style.

Natalie Toro as Grisabella, the old cat no one likes or wants anymore but can remember the old days when she was beautiful and elegant, does an exceptional dynamic and moving performance of "Memory".

Taylor Wicker as the very elusive Macavity stars in a creative dance routine in which he fights with all the other cats and then pulls the plug on the stage lights, leaving the rest in the dark so he can again disappear from the scene of the crime. Only minor lighting is used onstage until the electrical introduction of Mistoffelees who relights the stage with his magical powers.

Magical Mister Mistoffelees is believably portrayed by the very talented Brian Barry. His execution of a difficult ballet spin multiple times in succession evoked spontaneous applause from the audience in the middle of a high energy song and dance routine.

Old Deuteronomy, played by Doug Eskew, shows up at the annual Jellicle Ball to choose one cat which will get to ascend to the Heavyside Layer and begin life again as a new cat. By the end of the show he has chosen one,(whose identity I'll keep secret for the benefit of those of you who haven't seen it yet) and amidst extremely overzealous stage fog/smoke which bothered much of the audience as it spread out (much less could be used for the desired stage effect,) he escorts that cat up to the pedestal which takes her even higher up. The other cats are very happy for the one selected and it is a happy event for them all. It would be a nice(r) ending (though probably controversial or disagreeable to some) if the same actress, returned in a new costume as a new cat when she came back down the pedestal for the curtain call.

If you have ever even thought about seeing "CATS", or even if you haven't until now, don't hesitate to call right now and reserve your tickets to this outstanding show which has a limited three week engagement at the Shubert Theatre in Boston!!

(Note- pictures from the show will be available soon!)


entire contents 1997 by "Angel"

"CATS" (playing until January 4)
The Shubert Theatre
Boston, MA
(800) 447-7400 (telecharge)

THE THEATER MIRROR, Boston's LIVE Theater Guide