Friday, July 16, 2010

THE: Jacquie Bovée CATS Review

The "Cats" Meow at The Point

A CURRENT REVIEW
by Jacquie Bovée


The Point’s Smith-Ritch Outdoor Theatre has been magically transformed into a cosmic rubbish heap and T.S. Eliot’s Practical Cats appropriated the dump for their Jellicle Jubilee. And why not? Every conceivable, self respecting cat loves to roll in grubby newsprint, rummage in debris, toy with trash cans, fiddle old bicycle wheels, and just plain amuse themselves playing in and out of old car carcasses.

As the music swells and a moonlit night falls, cats’ eyes shine and dozens upon dozens of leaping, whirling and slinking shapes strut their stuff on director Jim Weisman’s brilliantly designed scenic wasteland. Sit back and let the outrageously amazing costumes of Linda Koehler Messina, the delicious makeup illusions of Emily Houghton and the superb musical direction of Luke Cummings catapult you on a psychedelic fantasy flight into the mad, mad world of “Cats.”

London’s award winning musical "Cats," with music by Andrew Lloyd Webber and story line loosely based on “Old Possum's Book of Practical Cats” by T.S. Eliot, opened on Broadway in 1982. New York Times theatre critic Frank Rich predicted that the production would run for a long time. This was, he noted, not because it's a brilliant musical, but because it "transports the audience into a complete fantasy world that could only exist in theatre.” His vision came true, with a run of 21 years in London and 18 years on Broadway.

Supervising the once-a-year nocturnal jam-session is Old Deuteronomy (talented Jim Wooten), the ancient vicarage cat who buried nine wives and will, after it’s over, choose one cat for redemption. He listens as Gus the Theatre Cat (sensational T.J. Ashabranner), whose real name is Asparagus, weaves his stories of days past. And as Muckustrap and Jellylorum (musical veterans Graydon Vaught and Nancy Regan), conduct the festivities, musically inviting us to enter a world that only “see-in-the-dark” creatures can see.

There’s Bustopher Jones the Cat About Town in white spats (marvelous Kirk Logan) who is not skin and bones. In fact he’s remarkably fat. And Rum Tum Tugger the Curious Cat (delightful Corey Weaver) who wears rhinestones and leather together.

And there’s a host other of talented Cats: Demeter (Deanna Brandt), Cassandra (Shayna Architect), Jennyanydots (Tyla Stephens), Skimbleshanks (Ian Banchs), Bombalurina (Reilly Downes), Coricopat (Jesslen Clark), Tantomile (Brandi Neely), Jemina (Nicole Moody), Mistoffelees (McKinsey Lowrance), Mungojerrie (Trevor Stewart), Rumpleteazer (Hannah McDonald),

And plenty of Kittens, too: Alexandria Architect, Elise Architect, Tiffany Ayala, Page Bacon, Gabi Banchs, Hannah Johle, Rianna Mathews, Jacob Mizell and Casey Weaver.

Plus some great outcast Cats, Macavity the Mystery Cat (Taylor Spelvin) and Grizabella the Glamour Cat (Joan Bryson) who could even be the one who ascends into feline paradise.

Kudos to Weisman and choreographer Lynn Wickham Bacon for wondrously arranging and rearranging the multitude of cats that never seem to leave the stage. And to Lorenzo Nichols for lighting it all so perfectly.

The show runs thru July 24 with evening performances on Thursday, Friday and Saturday at 8:30pm. Tickets are $15 for adults and $10 for youths 17 and younger. For reservations and information call the HCAF box office at 830-367-5121



T. J. Ashabranner (center) as Gus The Theater Cat. From the left (clockwise): Jellylorum (Nancy Regan), Kittens (Hannah Johle & Casey Weaver), Jemina (Nicloe Moody) and Electra (Gabi Banchs) - Photo by Jacquie Bovée



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