BWW Review: Those Mischievous CATS Land on Their Feet at Broadway Sacramento

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BWW Review: Those Mischievous CATS Land on Their Feet at Broadway SacramentoCATS, the fourth longest-running show in Broadway history, has arrived in Sacramento on its fresh, new national tour. When it first opened on Broadway in 1982, it won 7 Tony Awards, including Best Musical, Best Book of a Musical, and Best Original Score. Now it features exciting, updated choreography as well as new sound design and direction for a more modern take on a timeless treasure.

I was expecting to love this production of CATS. What I wasn't expecting was for Broadway to take its best and brightest and plop them right into my lap in the Sacramento Community Center Theater. The entire experience was energizing, starting with the electrifying orchestral opening and ending with the ascension of a magical tire. In between was 2 hours of thinking, "Please don't let it end." A resplendent showcase of lighting effects highlighted an incredible junkyard set, clever props, and sleek feline physiques.

Based on "Old Possum's Book of Practical Cats" by T.S. Eliot, CATS tells the story of the Jellicle Cats, who gather once a year to choose the cat who gets to travel to the Heaviside Layer (cat heaven) to be reborn into a new life. As the majority of the songs are the poems of Eliot, the musical is staged in vignettes, each featuring a different cat. Tap spectacular "The Old Gumbie Cat" is followed by the star of the show, that naughty cat in heat, "The Rum Tum Tugger, " who has been thrillingly possessed by Danny Zuko. Those thieving cats, "Mungojerrie and Rumpleteazer," compete for attention with "Macavity, The Mystery Cat," and the angelic chorus of "Skimbleshanks the Railway Cat." Fan favorite, "Memory," is, in this case, completely overshadowed by the balletic and visual masterpiece of "Magical Mister Mistoffelees."

CATS is, without a doubt, the most powerful production to come through Broadway Sacramento in the last two seasons. This is everything that we expect from Webber and everything that a Broadway tour should be.

CATS runs through April 7 at the Community Center Theater. TIckets start at $31 and are available now at the Wells Fargo Pavilion Box Office, 1419 H Street, Sacramento, or by calling (916) 557-1999; they are also available at the Community Center Theater Box Office, 1301 L Street, Sacramento, or by calling (916) 808-5181, or online at BroadwaySacramento.com.

Photo credit: Matthew Murphy

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