Review: CATS Lets the Memory Live Again in Jackson

By: Feb. 17, 2020
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"Are you blind when you're born? Can you see in the dark?" According to iconic lyrics from the aptly named "Jellicle Songs for Jellicle Cats" by Richard Stilgoe for one of Andrew Lloyd Webber's hit shows, Jellicles are and Jellicles do! The national tour of the megamusical phenomenon, Cats, stopped at Thalia Mara Hall in Jackson, Mississippi as a part of the Broadway in Jackson series presented by Trustmark on February 13th and 14th to show audience members exactly what the lives of Jellicle Cats look like, specifically on the night of the annual Jellicle Ball. The tour itself is presented by The Shubert Organization, James K. Nederlander, The Really Useful Group, Cameron Mackintosh, Roy Furman, John Gore, Stella La Rue, Grove Entertainment, Burnt Umber Productions, Independent Presenters Network/Al Nocciolino, and Peter May.

Based on "Old Possum's Book of Practical Cats" by T.S. Eliot, Cats features music by Andrew Lloyd Webber. Originally choreographed by Gillian Lynne, the tour features stunning choreography by Andy Blankenbuehler based on that of Lynne. The show also features incredible scenic and costume design by John Napier as well as dazzling lighting design by Natasha Katz. The company utilizes each of these design aspects to bring to life a spectacle that tells the story of the cat colony's yearly ritual, the Jellicle Ball, in which one cat will be chosen to be reborn into a new Jellicle life.

As the show progresses, each cat takes their turn in describing what they've done in this lifetime, from Jennyanydots (Dani Goldstein in the role), a seemingly-lazy cat by day who actually spends her nights teaching mice and roaches to be less pestilent, to a couple of impressive cat burglars (Mungojerrie and Rumpelteazer, humorously played by Ben Sears and Adriana Negron, respectively), to Giovanni DiGabriele as Skimbleshanks the railway cat, in charge of the night train to Glasgow, and the spectacular PJ DiGaetano playing Mistoffelees, the magical cat who will return Old Deuteronomy (Adam Richardson) to the junkyard to make the all-important Jellicle Choice. Each cat pleads his or her case, with their physical prowess, swagger, or magical abilities, to try to earn themselves a trip to Heaviside Layer, to begin life anew.

Old Deuteronomy, however, is less moved by the younger, more physically impressive and well-liked Cats, instead opting to hear out Grizabella, the glamour cat, as she sings about what her life was like before she became a social outcast, spurned by her peers. Donna Vivino tackles the role of Grizabella, giving the old, once beautiful cat such beautiful character depth, and bringing the house down with her powerful, emotionally charged final verse of "Memory", one of the most well-known show tunes of all time - a moment not likely to be forgotten by any of the audience members.

This production of Cats brings you a show truly like no other. With lighting effects that are out of this world, incredible costumes that perfectly walk the line between feline and something of human creation, captivating choreography, and an all-star cast truly filled to the brim with talent, it's 2 and a half hours of fantastical storytelling and truly must be seen to be believed. Click the link below to see the tour's full itinerary and to find links to purchase tickets!


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