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Review: Children's Theatre of Richmond presents CATS: Young Actors Edition

Be welcomed to the Jellicle Ball until August 7th!

From July 29th to August 7th, the Children's Theatre of Richmond will present: CATS. This one-hour adaptation of Andrew Lloyd Webber's hit musical features a cast of young actors, outstanding costumes, and many catchy songs. Playing at the PAL Studio Theatre in Vancouver, this show is the perfect opportunity to support local theatre and upcoming young artists in the area!

With direction by Mark Carter and choreography by Ken Overbey, the show was put together in a way that optimized the small stage area with the large cast. It would have been more advantageous to have a larger theatre space for the show as the there would have been more room to perform large dance numbers. On the flip side, the small space allowed the young actors to indulge into their role by slipping into and out of the nooks and crannies of the space. The dance numbers were appropriate for the skill level of the actors and challenged them without being overwhelming. Due to the large number of actors in the show, it seemed that the cast sometimes got jumbled and out of sync; however, I felt that this was a minor occurrence and it did not overshadow the overall quality of the show. The Rum Tum Tugger song featuring Matthew Mintsis' dance moves was a show highlight and a crowd favorite. The passion and drive in this number brought personality to the production.

The lighting design by Darren W Hales provided some extra magic to the production. It gave mystery to the entries and exits of the actors and provided a way to transition through songs and scenes. The lighting brought the show to a new level. Personally, the added touch of spotlights emulating cars passing by was excellent. In contrast, I think that the sound of the show could have been better. Each actor didn't have microphones and it was tough to hear some of their singing at times. This could have been due to a lack of projection of their voices; however, I think that lowering the volume of the music could have been more effective in helping with this. What made this show stand out for me was the costumes design by Lily Yuan and makeup design by Senem Yaman. Every "cat" in the show had very detailed makeup and a costume that was carefully pieced together. From the large fur coat for Old Deuteronomy to the slick body suits for each of the cats, the production excelled in anything costume/ makeup related. It was very intriguing to see the uniqueness of each outfit, which brought this production up a notch.

CATS, is a well-loved musical that can be a hit or miss for any audience member. I think that reviewing the plot before the show would help with understanding and following the story because it can be confusing at times to know what is happening on stage. The plot follows a group of different cats known as the "Jellicle Cats." Every year, an event called the Jellicle Ball happens where the leader/elder cat, Old Deuteronomy, choses one member of the group to ascend to the Heavenside layer to be reborn. Each of the Jellicle Cats tells their story through song to convince Old Deuteronomy to choose them. The show is essentially comprised of all the different songs from the different cats. As this is the plot of the musical, it may not appeal to everyone. Regardless of the plot, the show is very exciting to watch. There is always something happening from multiple angles and the songs differ from one another showing different feline personalities. The outstanding "cat" performance came from Claire Torrence as Grizabella. She embodied her character exceptionally well and had vocal power that stood out from the rest.

One thing I loved about the show was that you could tell each young actor put everything they had into their part and genuinely enjoyed being on stage. Seeing the joy and passion in every number triumphs all of the highs and lows of the show. To see the cast having fun, embracing their character, and passionately performing with happiness was a joy to see. As the Young Actors edition of this musical is inevitably not as complex and skilled in certain areas compared to the original, the cast of young actors did a great job overall.

CATS: YOUNG ACTORS EDITION features an amazing cast of young upcoming actors including: Adin Lum, Alex Gonsalves, Chika Inagaki, Grace Han, Matthew Mintsis, Claire Torrence, Cassidy Tran, Megan West, Daniella Lambert, Rickie Wang, Chris Xie, Millicent Liu, Eric Sun, Taran Gill, Talia Chan, Chloe Im, Yuki Zhang, August LeCaine, Alison Olson, Sebastian Bellamy, Alisa Jia, Mila Sheng, Alexia Chen, and Kalysha Tai.

Overall, the production was very interesting and exciting to watch. Filled with very versatile and catchy songs and big dance numbers, the show will keep you interested and wondering what is going to happen next. The passion of the young actors on stage should be a big reason why audiences should see it. Supporting upcoming young actors is important to keep the arts alive. Make your way down to Vancouver this week to see it!

CATS: YOUNG ACTORS EDITION presented by the Children's Theatre of Richmond plays until August 7th at the Pal Studio Theatre in Vancouver. Tickets are available by clicking the button below!

Photo Credit: Emily Cooper, 2022

From This Author - Alyson Eng

Alyson Eng is a General and Cardiac Diagnostic Medical Sonographer. She is a graduate from the sonography program at the British Columbia Institute of Technology and a graduate from the&n... (read more about this author)

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