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National Touring Company Of CATS Reunites For 'With Love, Now And Forever: CATS4COVIDRELIEF'

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This special event will premiere Friday, October 23 at 8 PM ET / 5PM PST.

National Touring Company Of CATS Reunites For 'With Love, Now And Forever: CATS4COVIDRELIEF'

Nearly 35 years after their first performance, the touring cast of CATS (National 3) has reunited for a very special virtual theatrical event, WITH LOVE, NOW AND FOREVER! CATS4COVIDRELIEF, a fundraiser for the Broadway Cares Covid-19 Emergency Assistance Fund, which supports The Actors Fund. This special event will premiere Friday, October 23 at 8 PM ET / 5PM PST at broadwaycares.org/catsbenefit and will be available through October 27.

More than 30 former cast members from CATS National 3 have joined forces to collaborate and create an upbeat, inspiring celebration of Andrew Lloyd Webber's international musical phenomenon, CATS. Donations made during the stream will help those onstage and behind the scenes get health care, emergency financial assistance and counseling during the pandemic and work stoppage. Joining the company for the musical celebration are hosts Brian Stokes Mitchell, Chairman of the Board for The Actors Fund, and Tom Viola, Executive Director of Broadway Cares/Equity Fights AIDS.

The video event was conceived and produced by award-winning director Jonathan Cerullo (The Boys from Syracuse, Legs Diamond Broadway Reunion), scripted by Christine Toy Johnson (Come From Away, Bombay Dreams), Broadway choreographer JoAnn M. Hunter (Disaster!, School of Rock), award-winning choreographer James Walski (Trip of Love), and entrepreneur Austin Jetton.

In addition, the show's music team reunites to conduct us through the event, Jay Alger, Edward G. Robinson, Jack Gaughan, and David Geist. And rounding out the team as Sound Editor is Tony Award-winner Brian Ronan (Book of Mormon, Beautiful - The Carole King Musical).

This special reunion will feature a contemporary take on the opening number, "Jellicle Songs for Jellicle Cats," testimonials of hope from cast members of how they were helped by The Actors Fund, and a spectacular, new performance of the show-stopping "Memory" performed by Grammy Award-winner Leslie Ellis ('Grizabella') and award-winning playwright/actress, Christine Toy Johnson ('Sillabub'). There will also be a fun Halloween surprise with "The Naming of Cats."

"In this 'new normal' of undertaking theater, artists must remain relevant through digital technologies to continually engage with our audiences and tell our stories," says Cerullo, who is producing and directing the event through his company, JSCTheatricals. "Our 'CATS4COVIDRELIEF' benefit is the realization of exploring this new platform for entertainment in today's pandemic environment."

The motivation behind this special collaboration is community. The cast and creative team have created a performance that combines today's technology - managed by top professionals in their field - music and theatre to bring to you an exciting and eclectic program.

"In revisiting my love affair with 'Memory' for this benefit, I was surprised and humbled by how powerful collaborating with my former castmates combined with the emotion of the current global unrest and social injustice would have on me," says Leslie Ellis, who played Grizabella. "I am deeply moved to have been a part of this benefit that aims to raise money and awareness to help everyone in our community who is in need right now."

"CATS was the biggest deal back in its day - if you had CATS on your resume, you'd made it," says JoAnn M. Hunter, who played Victoria. "When Broadway director/choreographer Michael Bennett died of AIDS in 1987, our cast came together as a family - a community - to help those impacted by the AIDS epidemic. And here we are again, thirty-plus years later, doing our part to help with this pandemic."

Broadway Cares/Equity Fights AIDS launched its COVID-19 Emergency Assistance Fund on March 17, just days after Broadway theaters and national tours shut down because of the coronavirus. The special fund, administered by The Actors Fund, continues to assist those in the entertainment community who are facing health care crises and other immediate needs in the wake of the ongoing pandemic.

To join this special celebration of CATS and community - WITH LOVE, NOW AND FOREVER! CATS4COVIDRELIEF - a fundraiser for the Broadway Cares COVID-19 Emergency Assistance Fund, which supports The Actors Fund on Friday, October 23 at 8 PM ET / 5 PM PST and to make your financial contribution, please visit broadwaycares.org/catsbenefit.


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