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Cats by based on T.S. Elliot’s Old Possum’s Book of Practical Cats

Music by Andrew Lloyd Weber

Directed and Choreographed by Julian Simpson

February 24-26 at the Virginia Samford Theatre

Reviewed by Leonard Jowers

 

The day started out with my four-year-old granddaughter at 6:30 am; we made waffles. Next, we fed the local ducks some bread, then celery (Wonder Pets unite!).  We colored a bit, some mandalas on the computer; and then we road an hour to watch a soccer game. After a few minutes at the Pet Supermarket enjoying the gerbils and fish, we had a late lunch at Newks. I tell you all this so you can appreciate that the child was so enthralled by the Cats matinée that she was riveted to the stage (except for a potty break) for the whole performance. She bawled that it was over; she “didn’t want it to end”.

The choreography was exciting; and the aerial ballet and dancing were enjoyable to watch. Cats is a rock opera. The singing was good, even though the songs were challenging. There were many delightful vocals; my favorite was the lead-up to and performance of “Gus: The Theatre Cat”. It was a joy to see such young talent tackling the work. There was never a wincing moment. The renditions were ever in character and engaging. Costumes were wonderful. Stage presence of cats who were not the center of attention, seemed totally appropriate and cat-like; there was always interesting business going on.

There were a few technical difficulties. There was some popping in the sound system and, most unfortunately, in one of the significantly long solos, there was a microphone failure for the cat singing from high upstage. The opening number was a strictly-dance number; the sound level was deafening. Perhaps due to the exciting dance numbers and action throughout the stage, the storyline in the first act did not come across to the members of my party.

Cats was quite an extravaganza. The Virginia Samford Theatre STARS, the Shades Valley Theatre Academy, AROVA Contemporary Ballet, and production sponsors are all congratulated for making it possible. I know the talent who performed will remember this production for the rest of their nine lives. We hope and expect to see many of them in theatre in years to come.


 

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Here is a link to a neat site that has reviews of the film versions of musicals:  http://www.geocities.com/TelevisionCity/Studio/8849/moviemusicals.htm


 

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