Mom Theatre Blogger: CATS: Broadway Musical Review by Robin Gorman Newman

Photo credit: Matthew Murphy

Photo credit: Matthew Murphy

It’s been many years since I saw CATS on Broadway, but I have very fond childhood memories of Betty Buckley, Terrance Mann and Laurie Beechman in their breakout roles. All tough acts to follow, but the new revival of CATS is simply a stunning production and one that I readily hope to share with my son and instill the memory of it in him.

Not only are the cats prowling in the audience, as one would remember, but in this production, the lighting and effects are as exciting as the playful immersiveness.

From the moment the show opens in darkness and we see flickers of cats eyes, we know we are in for a treat.  What it lacks in story, it makes up for in heart and spunk, and there are some particularly impressive and athletic, rollicking dance numbers including The Jellicle Ball, Mungojerrie and Rumpelteazer and Magical Mister Mistoffelees.

The talented ensemble (all superb singers and dancers) includes Giuseppe Bausilio as “Carbucketty,” Quentin Earl Darrington as “Old Deuteronomy,” Jeremy Davis as “Skimbleshanks,” Kim Faure as “Demeter,” Sara Jean Ford as “Jellylorum,” Lili Froehlich as “Electra,” Daniel Gaymon as “Macavity,” Shonica Gooden as “Rumpleteazer,” Christopher Gurr as “Gus/Bustopher Jones,” Tyler Hanes as “Rum Tum Tugger,” Andy Jones as “Munkustrap,” Kolton Krouse as “Tumblebrutus,” Eloise Kropp as “Jennyanydots / Gumbie,” Jess LeProtto as “Mungojerrie,” Georgina Pazcoguin as “Victoria,” Emily Pynenburg as “Cassandra,” Ariana Rosario as “Sillabub,” Ahmad Simmons as “Alonzo,” Christine Cornish Smith “Bombalurina,” Corey Snide as “Coricopat,” Emily Tate as “Tantomile,” Ricky Ubeda as “Mistoffelees,” and Sharrod Williams as “Pouncival,”as well as Richard Todd Adams, Aaron Albano, Callan Bergmann, Claire Camp, Francesca Granell, Jessica Hendy, Harris Milgrim, Madison Mitchell, Nathan Patrick Morgan and Megan Ort.

The hardworking, attractive cast (most adorned in form fitting unitards) is uniformly impressive, although, Leona Lewis  as Grizabella, the once glamourous cat now shunned by the others in her raggedy coat, does not capture the depth of emotion I recall from her iconic predecessors.  Blessed with strong pipes and the opportunity to sing the beautiful showstopper Memory, she pulls it off and hits the piercing high note with ease, but her overall presence is not a strong one.

During intermission, you have the unique opportunity to venture around the stage and take photos with Old Deuteronomy.  The set is itself full of character (a fantastical junkyard) and there is much sordid detail to take in.  Kids will enjoy this…..though it’s not an ideal show for little ones who can’t sit through 2 hours, 15 minutes.

Composed by Andrew Lloyd Webber and based on T.S. Eliot’s “Old Possum’s Book of Practical Cats,” the original Broadway production opened in 1982 at Broadway’s Winter Garden Theatre (currently home to Lloyd Webber’s newest hit, School of Rock – The Musical), 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.

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, based on the original choreography by Gillian Lynne, and direction by Trevor Nunn.

Since its world premiere, 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 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. The original Broadway production closed on September 10, 2000 and is currently the fourth longest-running show in Broadway history.

Whether or not this show is your favorite, you can see why CATS has become a classic, and this frisky, flirty revival will invite a new legion of devoted feline followers.


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