Review Roundup: What Did Critics Think of CATS on Tour?
The new National Tour of CATS, based off the last Broadway revival, has hit the road and had it's official opening in Providence, RI!
The Jellicle Cats 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.
Composed by Andrew Lloyd Webber and based on T.S. Eliot's Old Possum's Book of Practical Cats, the record-breaking musical spectacular has captivated audiences in over 30 countries and 15 languages and is soon to be on tour across North America! Featuring new sound design, direction and choreography for a new generation - experience Cats for the first time as it begins a new life, or let it thrill you all over again!
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.
CATS returned to Broadway in 2016 in a stunning revival at the Neil Simon Theatre. Preview performances began Thursday, July 14, 2016, and officially opened on Sunday, July 31, 2016. Cats played its final performance on Saturday, December 30, 2017 after 16 previews and 593 regular performances.
The creative team for the new 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. Originally directed by Trevor Nunn with choreography and associate direction by Gillian Lynne, scenic and costume design by John Napier, lighting design by David Hersey, and sound design by Abe Jacob, Cats opened in the West End in 1981. 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. The original Broadway production closed on September 10, 2000 and is currently the fourth longest-running show in Broadway history. This marks the first tour of the first-ever Broadway revival of the iconic musical.
For more information, please visit CatsTheMusical.com
Karen Galindo, The Sunflower: The lighting gave the show an extra layer of depth. It added an extra touch of magic, making the junkyard of the Jellicle Cats look like a fantasy wonderland. The lights themselves were a show, but they worked in perfect unison with the movement of the dancers and with the emotions of each scene. I'm sure the woman with the binoculars sitting three rows in front of me would agree when I say that "CATS" has amazing choreography, magical lighting, powerful voices, and goosebump performances, proving itself to be the musical spectacular it's known to be.
James D. Watts, Tulsa World: But the best thing about the show is Oklahoma native Keri Rene Fuller as Grizabella the Glamour Cat. Her portrayal of this broken-down, brokenhearted creature is maybe the best of the many I've seen, and the way she infuses the show's signature song with a real sense of anguish even as she rattled the rafters with some powerful singing, made her "Memory" truly live again.
Emily Wolfe, The Signal: Nunn knows how to direct "Cats" and it shows. From having the Jellicle cats run around in the audience to the placement of characters on the stage, Nunn has thought through each and every aspect of the production. Most notably in the Act II version of "Memory" where Grizabella is on the floor lamenting, while Sillabub (played by Arianna Rosario) stands over her on the junkyard heap symbolizing the 'replacement' of Grizabella in Jellicle society.
Suzanna Tidwell, BroadwayWorld: As far as the dance - these are dancers, make no mistake. Playbill bios include numerous ballet and dance training credits, and frequent mentions of dance-heavy shows such as AN AMERICAN IN PARIS and WEST SIDE STORY, and they are at the top of their game. The choreography seems not so much new as refreshed until you get to perennial crowd-pleaser "Mungojerrie and Rumpleteaser". The basic athletic elements are still there, including the iconic partner cartwheels, but there is an intricacy and complexity that is contemporary and exciting. Justin W. Geiss as Mungojerrie and the sassy Rose Iannaccone as Rumpleteaser are standouts as the cheeky duo. Another addition is an extended solo in "Mr. Mistoffelees", beautifully danced by Tion Gaston. Caitlin Bond's sweetly charming Victoria and her exquisite technique are captivating.
Los Angeles Reviews
Ellen Dostal, BroadwayWorld: Yes, it's dated, (the prominent appearance of a boom box is a not so subtle reminder) and it will never win over fans looking for intellectual fare, but it does a remarkable job of paying homage to the man who owned the genre at a high point in musical theatre's evolution. The original production won seven Tony awards, ran for 18 years on Broadway, and has been seen by more than 73 million people around the world. Say what you will, the CATS phenomenon is nothing to sneeze at.
Jordan Riefe, The Hollywood Reporter: Choreography by the legendary Gillian Lynne has been reworked in a minor way by Hamilton's Andy Blankenbuehler, whose touch can be seen in the slinky duet, "Mungojerrie and Rumpleteazer" (Tony D'Alelio and Rose Iannaccone). Unburdened by narrative, Lynne, who passed away last July, offers a dance sampler including music hall, English folk, jazz and tap over Lloyd Webber's often evocative anthems and lingering ballads. What's not to like? Cats is a crowd-pleaser that keeps it in the litter box. Now and forever? Sure.
Dany Margolies, Los Angeles Daily News: Natasha Katz updates the lighting, and her work is exquisite. The musical's ending - that famous moment when one of the cats ascends to "the Heavyside Layer" for rebirth in another of her nine lives - is a visual knockout. And, to be honest, primarily because of Katz's lighting it's an emotional knockout, too.
Ron Irwin, Los Angeles Post-Examiner: Throughout the show the singing and dancing never ends and is nothing short of spectacular. But to attempt to fully explain each twist and turn in this extraordinary play would be like trying to explain the meaning of life in 25 words or less.
Jordan Holman, Daily Bruin: The production's most impressive features were the technical elements of design, lighting and sound. During scenes of high intensity and drama, dizzying light and dark crossfades appeared on the stage in rapid succession. String lights constantly changed color depending on the mood of the piece. When Mr. Mistoffelees takes the stage, the theater is transformed into an astonishing light show that flashes to the beat of the music. As the cat passionately executes fouettes across the stage, a spotlight shines directly on him and his sparkling costume. Such performances manage to distract, at least for a moment, from the lack of cohesion elsewhere.
Providence and Connecticut Reviews
Susan McDonald, Providence Journal: Make no mistake, the music of "Cats," created by a complete orchestra, is still dazzling. Keri Rene Fuller offers an absolutely chilling performance of "Memory" and other numbers like "The Old Gumbie Cat" and "The Moments of Happiness" layer on the joy. The music tells each cat's story in such a way that they become almost human, and watching them move and interact makes the audience forget they are not. It's so hard for revivals to top the original. Comparisons can be harsh and expectations are often high. But this newest rendition of "Cats" is a rebirth itself. The show holds fresh appeal and a polished look that will appeal to all ages.
Erica Cataldi-Roberts, BroadwayWorld: The classic junkyard set features plenty of places for the cast to enter and exit from, to lounge about on or traverse. Lights are still strung up from the stage throughout the theatre, and lighting effects are used to great purpose in several of the songs, most notably "Magical Mister Mistoffelees." If you happen to be seated in the front rows of the orchestra section, be prepared for the actors to be alongside you on more than one occasion, and not just during the Overture of the show. The score is played live by a small orchestra conducted by Eric Kang.
Christopher Arnott, Hartford Courant: The song "Memory" remains a surefire showstopper. Keri Rene Fuller as Grizabella, shabbily dressed in gray rags and long-laced boots, as if she'd wandered in from a Tim Burton movie, delivers it almost as if it's an operatic aria, and on Tuesday night received a long warm ovation for her efforts.
Mark G. Auerbach, Westfield News: The blend of design and the performances changed my mind about Cats. It's aged well, and this tour is vibrant on every level. Director Trevor Nunn has tweaked the show, all for the best. Cats runs through Sunday, February 3. For those who have never seen a stage version, a visit to The Bushnell will give you the opportunity to understand why Cats is landmark. For those on a repeat visit, let the memory live again.