February 28, 2019
CATS at Pantages Theatre

Matthew Murphy

I’m a devoted cat mommy. Can’t count how many of these fabulous felines I’ve been privileged to call my fur babies over the years, but it’s a lot.  But the last time I saw the theatre production of CATS was in New York long before I was a card-carrying “crazy cat lady.”  So I was intrigued to see if my reaction would be any different this time around.

Turns out, it was!  Having spent so many thousands of hours with “real” cats, I was even more enthralled with the extraordinary performances of the actors and dancers in this deeply touching production, straight from Broadway and now lighting up the Pantages Theatre. I only wish my own cats could have witnessed it with me.

CATS at the Pantagees Theatre
Matthew Murphy

It’s nothing short of incredible how these actor/dancers transform themselves, down to the very pads of their feet, into dancing, swirling, crying, heart-capturing CATS! How they manage to crawl, curl, preen, stretch and scamper exactly like our favorite tabbies is anyone’s guess…they must have youth, a lifetime of rehearsals, and two massive pawfuls of talent and passion to offer up this performance on a nightly basis.  They’ve perfectly captured the pride, personality, grace and the sheer magnificence of our feline friends--and the audience lapped it up like a dish of the finest cream.
The staging, lighting and choreography were vibrant, kinetic and happily not too different from the original production. Nor has the music score or orchestration been altered much, so seeing this is like dipping your paw into the past.  A lovely retro experience, filled with whimsical London neighborhood references.

Based on the  T.S. Eliot’s “Old Possum’s Book of Practical Cats,” the original Broadway production opened in 1982 at Broadway’s Winter Garden Theatre, where it ran for 7,485 performances and 18 years.  CATS  was originally produced on Broadway by Cameron Mackintosh, The Really Useful Company Limited, David Geffen, and The Shubert Organization.  And it remains to this day Andrew Lloyd Webber’s achingly beautiful iconic musical for anyone with a beating heart.

CATS at Pantages Theatre
Matthew Murphy

The Jellicle cats of this national tour  include Phillip Deceus as “Alonzo,” McGee Maddox as “Bill Bailey/Rum Tum Tugger,” Lexie Plath as “Bombalurina,” Mariah Reives as “Cassandra,” PJ DiGaetano as “Coricopat,” Liz Schmitz as “Demeter,” Keri René Fuller as “Grizabella,” Kaitlyn Davidson as “Jellylorum,” Emily Jeanne Phillips as “Jennyanydots,” Tion Gaston as “Mistoffelees,” Tony d'Alelio as “Mungojerrie,” Dan Hoy as “Munkustrap,” Timothy Gulan as “Peter/Bustopher Jones/Asparagus,” Tyler John Logan as “Plato/Macavity,” Anthony Michael Zas as “Pouncival,” Rose Iannaccone as “Rumpelteazer,” Ahren Victory as “Sillabub,” Ethan Saviet as “Skimbleshanks,” Halli Toland as “Tantomile,” Devin Neilson as “Tumblebrutus,” Brandon Michael Nase as “Victor/Old Deuteronomy,” Caitlin Bond as “Victoria,” along with Zachary S. Berger, Nicholas Burrage, Erin Chupinsky, Maria Failla, Justin W. Geiss, Laura Katherine Kaufman, Charlotte O'Dowd, Adam Richardson, Tricia Tanguy, and Andy Zimmermann.

I list them all because it takes every single one of these fantastic actors and singers to create the wonderment, the joy,  the expressiveness and the heart-stopping spectacle we witnessed last night.

The creative team for the new Broadway production of CATS includes John Napier (Scenic & Costume Design), Natasha Katz (Lighting Design), Mick Potter (Sound Design), choreography by Andy Blankenbuehler of Hamilton, based on the original choreography by Gillian Lynne, and direction by Trevor Nunn. Yes, THAT Trevor Nunn, who directed the original world premiere of CATS in 1981 in London’s West End.  Since then, CATS has been presented in over 30 countries, has been translated into 15 languages, and has been seen by more than 73 million people worldwide.

The musical debuted on Broadway in 1982 where it won seven Tony Awards, including Best Musical. Both the original London and Broadway cast recordings won Grammy Awards for Best Cast Album. CATS hit song “Memory” has been recorded by over 150 artists from Barbra Streisand and Johnny Mathis to Liberace and Barry Manilow. The Tony Award-winning Best Musical held the title of longest-running musical in Broadway history until it was surpassed in 2006 by Lloyd Webber’s The Phantom of the Opera.

If you’ve never seen this show, seize your moment, grab your kids or someone you love a lot and go give yourself the gift of transforming musical theatre. The magic will stay with you for days.

If you’re thinking of going, don’t hesitate to get your tickets. This phenomenal production is only in town for 4 weeks before it stealthily creeps out of town after March 24th.

Tickets for CATS are now on sale, and available at www.HollywoodPantages.com/Cats and www.Ticketmaster.com, by phone at (800) 982-2787 or in person at the Hollywood Pantages Theatre Box Office (Opens Daily at 10am PT).