During Tuesday night’s opening of “CATS: The Musical” at the Kentucky Center, spread throughout the audience, there seemed to be as many Broadway aficionados as there were newcomers, which isn’t surprising when you consider that the cat classic is now 40 years old.
Andrew Lloyd Webber’s record-breaking 1982 musical spectacle (“The Phantom of the Opera”, “School of Rock”, “Sunset Boulevard”) has been seen by hundreds of thousands of theatergoers in more than 30 countries and 15 languages. Now touring North America, the Tony Award-winning show currently plays through January 23rd as part of the PNC Broadway in Louisville series.
Avid fans of the cat phenomenon came out on Tuesday and knew every word of every song in the musical. But for those who had first entered the “junkyard”, which may seem impossible for a show that has delighted audiences for 40 years, thoughts of “what’s going on here?” were not uncommon.
Exactly what happens at a performance of the longest-running musical is primarily what made it popular for four decades, though a few new twists have refreshed the litter of kittens and the cat stream.
Thanks to costume designer John Napier (“Les Misérables”), the full bodysuits, leg warmers, wigs and massive amounts of cat makeup are back. A noticeable update in the second act, Magical Mister Mistoffelees’ spins, jumps and sings in a jacket of many colors – thanks to the ever-changing LED lights sewn into his costume.
Also back in all its beautiful glory is the huge junkyard set where the naughty pussies and curious cats hang out to sing and dance their furry hearts out to choreography by Andy Blankenbuehler (“Hamilton.”)
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The tour production, which stars José Raul Mangual as Munkustrap, Max Craven as Mungojerrie, Tayler Harris as Grizabella and Zach Bravo as Rum Tum Tugger, gives memorable and enjoyable performances, which stand out from the ensemble of acro-cats.
But it is this acrobatic ensemble that transforms the stage from a group of actors into a room full of cats. With a movement of the head, an arch of the back, a sudden exuberant jump, before you know it the mesmerizing choreography and costumes will draw you in and forget that these are real people – you’ll swear these nimble characters are real cats. are.
The PNC Broadway in Louisville production of “CATS” leads a live orchestra into the pits. After two years of concerns about COVID-19, there is a wealth of sound from the live clarinet, keyboard, guitar and percussion coming from beneath the stage. The popular songs weave together an energetic and heartfelt story that takes place on a magical night when an extraordinary tribe of cats gathers in the junkyard for its annual ball to rejoice and decide which cat will be reborn.
During the performance, the theater audience is introduced to specific cats, such as the ultra-male Rum Tum Tugger, the sick Grizabella and the wise Old Deuteronomy. If you have a cat in your home, you will definitely recognize your pet’s characteristics in at least one of the characters. Highlights from the score include “Jellicle Songs for Jellicle Cats,” “Magical Mister Mistoffelees,” and one of the most treasured songs in musical theater, “Memory.”
In addition to Webber’s original score, there is an all-new lighting design by Natasha Katz (“Aladdin”) and an all-new sound design by Mick Potter. Blankenbuehler’s new choreography is based on the original choreography by Gillian Lynne (“Phantom of the Opera”) and directed by Trevor Nunn (“Les Misérables.”) Like the cats themselves, the updates add a subtle delight to enhance the iconic production.
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If you haven’t seen “CATS: The Musical” yet, it really is a feline curiosity and classic worth the price of a ticket. And if you’ve been a long-time fan of the show, it’s worth attending for your own “memory.”
The 2021-22 PNC Broadway series in Louisville, which includes “Cats,” also features “Come From Away,” “Mean Girls,” “Hamilton,” and “Anastasia.” Tickets can be purchased at louisville.broadway.com.
Reach Kirby Adams at firstname.lastname@example.org or Twitter @kirbylouisville.
PNC Broadway at Louisville ‘Cats’
WHATAndrew Lloyd Webber’s record-breaking musical spectacle arrives in Louisville with new choreography, lights and sound to tell the story of a magical night when an extraordinary tribe of cats gathers for its annual ball to rejoice and decide which cat will be reborn.
Webber’s original music (“The Phantom of the Opera”, “School of Rock”, “Sunset Boulevard”), original set and costume design by John Napier (“Les Misérables”), all-new lighting design by Natasha Katz (“Aladdin “) and a new choreography by Andy Blankenbuehler (“Hamilton”) make this production a new generation.
TRUE: Whitney Hall, Kentucky Center, 501 W Main St.
WHEN: now until 23 Jan. Wednesday and Thursday evenings at 7.30pm, Friday and Saturday evenings at 8pm, Saturday matinee at 2pm, Sunday matinee at 1pm and Sunday evenings at 6.30pm
TICKETS: $47.39-$145.67. Available online at kentuckyperformingarts.org or by calling 502-584-7777.
COVID-19 PROTOCOL: To access this event, all customers must wear masks and have proof of vaccination or proof of negative COVID test, PCR test not older than 72 hours after arrival at the event or antigen test not older than 24 hours after arrival at discuss the event.
ALLEY CAT Advocates DONATION DRIVE: pNC Broadway in Louisville and ‘Cats’ partner with Feeder Supply and MIX 106.9 to support feral cats in our community. Now through January 23, donation bins for items such as kitten food, non-clumping clay cat litter, and cleaning supplies will be set up at most Feeder Supply locations and during the “Cats” run in the lobby of the Kentucky Center. Donations will be collected by Alley Cats Advocates, whose mission is to provide humane treatment for non-owned cats in the Louisville area.
Alley Cat’s Wishlist of Items:
- Purina Fancy Feast Fish and Shrimp Feast Flake, Flake Gourmet of Gravy Lovers Poultry and Beef Feast Collection, canned cat food
- Purina canned cat food, any flavor
- Purina One Healthy Kitten Formula, Purina One Adult, Purina One Sensitive Systems Clay Non-Clumping Cat Litter, Any Brand
- Purina Yesterday’s News of Feline Pine Cat Litter
- puppy pads
- Virbac Epi-Otic Advanced Ear Cleaner for Dogs and Cats (all sizes)
- Scratching post for long-stay cats
- 3 ounce Dixie cups
- Snuggle Safe Heating Pads
- Small Disposable Litter Boxes
- Dawn dishwashing liquid
- Kitchen garbage bags
- masking tape
- AA and 9V batteries
- Paper towels
- Paper plates
- Paper Napkins
- disposable cutlery
- HotHands Hand Warmers
- Toe warmers to place under the traps (under the bait food) during cold days to prevent the bait from freezing
- Jumbo Space Saver Vacuum Bags For Storage