Review: CATS at Shubert Theatre

Review: The Goodspeed's GYPSY is a Real Good Time!

While I have heard wonderful things about the musical CATS and about the Shubert Theatre in New Haven, CT, I had never experienced either until March 5, 2020, when both far exceeded my expectations when I saw this musical masterpiece phenomenally performed by an extraordinary cast, to a packed audience representing numerous demographics, leaving us all united with an amazing memory of such an incredible theatrical experience!

The theatre looks like a Broadway theatre, complete with multiple levels and a large stage. At the same time, I am happy to report that the seats are more roomy than in many Broadway theatres, so no one feels crammed in. The set is spectacular, depicting the night sky and full moon in the background, with multiple levels on the sides. Lighting effects enhance the set. The full stage is brilliantly utilized in this production.

The music is composed by Andrew Lloyd Webber, with the book based on a story from T.S. Eliot. The brilliant directing by Trevor Nunn combines with Andy Blankenbuehler's stunning choreography which is based on the original choreography by Gillian Lynne, to help bring this exhilarating musical to life. While the story is primarily carried by the music, without significant dialogue between songs, it is the dancing and stage theatrics that make this show stand out! Entrances are made through the house aisles, from backstage, and even one that comes down from the stage ceiling and lands center stage! Among the acrobatics are slides, flips, cartwheels, a full split, and even two cast members (Ben Sears and Adriana Negron as Mungojerrie and Rumpelteazer respectively) flawlessly cartwheeling across the stage together, while holding onto each other! The dancing is synchronized and coordinated with remarkable precision. This is clearly a cast with extreme levels of talent and high enjoyment of their roles in the show, radiating positive energy that flows through each other with amazing stage chemistry, and out to the audience, keeping us all enthralled.

A talented live band directed and conducted by Eric Kang, while remaining invisible to the audience, still positively impact us with their wonderful instrumentation that accompanies the singers, and is often breathtaking on its own, in the moments without lyrics. The powerhouse vocals of Donna Vivino as Grizabella are so spectacular on the show's most popular song, "Memory," that the audience provided a full applause while the song was being sung, something I've never witnesses before, not even on Broadway! Donna Vivino kept total professionalism and continued singing with feeling, even throughout the applause. Nevada Riley, as Sillabub, provides angelic vocals that also work extremely well with "Memory," and its melody as heard earlier in Act 2, a fascinating and brilliantly effective dynamic of two amazing vocalists with two very different yet both spectacular voices, both performing vocal solos on the same melody in the same show.

While "Memory," which in some capacity (at least melodically) appears four different times during the show is clearly the most moving number, Andrew Lloyd Webber's song-writing also includes some other strong numbers. "Shimbleshanks the Railway Cat" is reminiscent of "Poor Poor Joseph" from Andrew Lloyd Webber's earlier work Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat. Meanwhile, many moments that Old Deuteronomy sings lead provide a foreshadowing of the amazing songwriting that Andrew Lloyd Webber would later show in The Phantom of the Opera. As Old Deuteronomy, Adam Richardson provides powerful and moving vocals.

Also rounding out this spectacular cast are Adam Vanek, McGee Maddox, Elyse Collier, Jordan Betscher, Maurice Dawkins, Alexa Racioppi, Annemarie Rosano, Dani Goldstein, PJ DiGaetano, Zachary S. Berger, Timothy Gulan, Brayden Newby, Brett Michael Lockley, Giovanni DiGabriele, Melody Rose, Cameron Edris, Caitlin Bond, Madison Mitchell, Nathan Patrick Morgan, Zachary Tallman, Tricia Tanguy, Erin Chupinsky, Alex Dorf, Devin Hatch, Charlotte O'Dowd, Austin Joseph Reynolds, and Loretta Williams.

I believe that the reason CATS had lasted so long on Broadway is that the show has a universal appeal to every age, with the ability to captivate audiences with the stage theatrics, regardless of whether audience members grasp the storyline. This is the type of show that parents can safely bring their children to, without fear of exposing them to anything scary, vulgar, or otherwise inappropriate.

I highly recommend CATS, which is scheduled to continue to run at the Shubert Theatre in New Haven, CT, through March 8, 2020. For times and tickets, please call the box office at 203-562-5666 or go to


Review: NEXT TO NORMAL at Ridgefield Theater Barn Photo
Review: NEXT TO NORMAL at Ridgefield Theater Barn

On Friday, June 2, I had the pleasure of seeing NEXT TO NORMAL presented in the absolute most phenomenal way possible!  The Ridgefield Theater Barn in Ridgefield, CT, has maximized the potential of this emotionally deep and powerful musical!  Directors Matt Austin and Jessica Chesbro combine their strong directing talents with their brilliant set design skills to create an immersive experience that draws the entire audience into the show!  This stellar cast of six first-rate performers brings their characters to life!  The stage presence of all six cast members and dynamics between them all yield authenticity that makes the audience feel the characters’ emotions, in this intimate setting.   The audience was truly moved by this story with book and lyrics written by Brian Yorkey, coupled with the music written by Tom Kitt, as performed by this amazing cast and live band, in this perfectly arranged venue for this show!

BEAUTY AND THE BEAST to Open Summer Theatre Of New Canaan 20th Season Photo
BEAUTY AND THE BEAST to Open Summer Theatre Of New Canaan 20th Season

The Summer Theatre of New Canaan will open its 20th season with the Broadway musical spectacular Beauty And The Beast July 15th.

WORKIN FOR A LIVIN - The Huey Lewis And The News Tribute Show is Coming to Cheney Hall in  Photo
WORKIN' FOR A LIVIN' - The Huey Lewis And The News Tribute Show is Coming to Cheney Hall in July

WORKIN' FOR A LIVIN' - THE ULTIMATE HUEY LEWIS & THE NEWS TRIBUTE is coming to Cheney Hall on Friday, July 14 at 7:00 PM.


MOONDANCE: THE ULTIMATE VAN MORRISON TRIBUTE is coming to Cheney Hall Saturday, July 8 at 7:00 pm. 


#repshow# in[i]# ASSASSINS
Kweskin Theatre (6/02-6/17)Tracker PHOTOS VIDEOS
#repshow# in[i]# The Wizard of Oz
Offsite Connecticut Theatre (8/18-8/18)
#repshow# in[i]# The Secret Garden
ACT of Connecticut (5/18-6/11)
#repshow# in[i]# Tick Tick Boom
City Youth Theater/ City Stage Company (7/27-7/30)
#repshow# in[i]# Disney's Beauty and the Beast
Summer Theatre of New Canaan (7/15-7/30)
#repshow# in[i]# GALVANIZED JAZZ BAND
Music Mountain (9/02-9/02)
#repshow# in[i]# BILL CHARLAP TRIO
Music Mountain (8/05-8/05)
#repshow# in[i]# SWINGTIME BIG BAND
Music Mountain (7/29-7/29)
#repshow# in[i]# Masters of Puppets
The Legacy Theatre (5/25-6/11)
#repshow# in[i]# Broadway's Orfeh with Steven Jamail at the Piano!
The Legacy Theatre (6/25-6/25)

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