THE KITTIES REUNITE FOR THEIR JELLICLE ANNUAL BALL AT THE GOLDEN GATE THEATRE
‘CATS’ THE MUSICAL IS RUM TUM TUGGER
AND MISTER MISTOFFELEES BACK TOGETHER FOR NOW AND FOREVER
Review by Vince Mediaa
I am allergic to cats, and of course they soon bring tears to my eyes, yet I do love their quirky independence and original personalities. The meeting ground this weekend in SF is a junkyard for their annual Jellicle Ball. CATS opened at BroadwaySF Golden Gate Theatre Wednesday night, for a short five days that must close this Sunday June 5th. The CATS are the Jellicle “tribe word Jellicle" is Eliot's invention and the ball is a yearly cat together more elegant than a “cat box’ full of sand at a Furry Convention. At this cat event presiding cat Old Deuteronomy decides which one of those present will be awarded a new beginning.
Directed by icon Trevor Nunn, this current national tour of CATS, with choreography by Andy Blankenbuehler based on the original Choreography by Gillian Lynne, is much the same. The pacing is smooth, and the acting, singing, and dancing is tight, and high tech. Mr. Nunn has woven this cast into an eye candy production. The original Broadway production opened in 1982, based on "Old Possum's Book of Practical Cats" by T.S. Elliot with Music by Andrew Lloyd Webber, and was the longest running Broadway show in history until The Phantom of the Opera, also composed by Andrew Lloyd Webber took its place.
There’s no dialog, the content is 21songs and ensemble dance numbers set to Eliot’s simple verse, which is a creation in which the cat characters are given fanciful names and campy identifiable characteristics. There is Grizabella, a once-beautiful seductress now past her prime, Gus the theatre cat who fondly recalls his acting career, Macavity the master criminal Prof. Moriarty, Mistoffolees, the mystery cat with evil powers, Rum Tug Tugger, a swaggering rock star. The story book is the part of feline ball in the junkyard, the eldest cat, Old Deuteronomy, chooses one deserving Cat for paradise and rebirth.
Eliot was a devout Catholic and you can feel that subtext in these songs. It’s not easy to get too involved with this simple story, but the nonstop razzle dazzle carries the audience along on a tide of campy kitty shenanigans. The story follows Grizabella, the former beauty, climaxing with the rich ballad, “Memory,” which Tayli Jameson puts over the top. This is still a show stopper the second act number is the hit we all remember from this musical. Indalecio de Jesus Valentin plays Old Deuteronomy and does a keen job with this ark role. In spite of his height and the magnificence of his costume. Valentin seems the perfect choice with his excellent acting and powerhouse voice.
Lloyd Webber’s music is a mixture of various styles, from pop to operetta to jazz to British music hall to rock, and most of it is impressive. Webber has a sweeping balanced talent, and also a rhythmic pop insistence and a impressive “stingers.” The orchestrations by the composer and David Cullen are engrossing. Nunn and Lynne’s high end musical staging is impressive. The choreography isn’t terribly original, relying overmuch on acrobatics, and the tap dance is still in the two and half hour show. Some of the extended dance numbers seem forced, but Lloyd Webber’s easy music and the flair of the staging makes this musical easy to sit through.
The computer controlled lights has forever changed theatre, rock concerts, and all entertainment. The use of these amazing tools is the true mark of CATS move to the millennium. The lighting design by Natasha Katz was eye popping in every way. The use of color, breakup patterns gave this production an added dimension and level of success that other productions simply could not prove. The orchestra's performance under the direction of Jonathan Gorst was terrific. Eliot’s book of light poetry makes CATS closer to an arena show than a musical. Many have written that CATS has no heart, even though the plot makes us believe that “heart” is what it’s all about now and forever.
BROADWAY SF AND TROIKA ENTERTAINMENT PRESENTS
The landmark musical by Andrew Lloyd-Webber,
based on T.S. Eliot’s beloved book of poems
Directed by Trevor Nunn
MUST CLOSE JUNE 5TH 2022
Golden Gate Theatre, 1 Taylor St., San Francisco
Tickets: $56-$174 www.broadwaysf.com
RUNNING TIME 2 HOURS 20 MIN ONE INTERMISSION
Performance Schedule: Wednesday, Thursday, Friday, Saturday at 7:30 PM Wednesday, Saturday, Sunday at 1 PM Sunday at 6:30 PM
IN-PERSON RUSH TICKETS
A limited number of $40 Rush tickets will be available for every performance beginning 2 hours prior to curtain at the Golden Gate Theatre Box Office. Tickets are subject to availability. Cash or credit. 2 per person. Rush tickets are void if resold.
MOBILE RUSH TICKETS
Download the TodayTix app in the iOS App Store or Google Play Store to unlock the Rush ticketing feature by sharing on Facebook or Twitter through the app. Check back in the app at 9am for access to exclusive day-of $40 Rush tickets for every performance.
The cast of Jellicle cats includes Vinny Andaloro as “Alonzo,” Zach Bravo as “Bill Bailey/Rum Tum Tugger,” Chelsea Nicole Mitchell as “Bombalurina,” Lexy Bittner as “Cassandra,” Taylor James Rosenberger as “Coricopat,” Lauren Louis as “Demeter,” Tayler Harris as “Grizabella,” Kayli Jamison as “Jellylorum,” Michelle E. Carter as “Jennyanydots,” Paul Giarratano as “Mistoffelees,” Max Craven as “Mungojerrie,” Devon McCleskey as “Munkustrap,” John Anker Bow as “Peter/Bustopher Jones/Asparagus,” Aiden Pressel as “Plato/Macavity,” Dominic Fortunato as “Pouncival,” Kelly Donah as “Rumpelteazer,” Brianna Kim as “Sillabub,” Christopher Salvaggio as “Skimbleshanks,” Alexia Waites as “Tantomile,” Sean McManus as “Tumblebrutus,” Indalecio De Jesús Valentín as “Victor/Old Deuteronomy,” Hyla Mayrose Perillo as “Victoria,” along with Gracie A. Anderson, Megan Arseneau, Carolyn Bacon, Kelliann DeCarlo, Connor Orion Bermingham, Kieran Macdonald, Tony Mowatt, Brian Craig Nelson, José Raúl Mangual, and Elana Valastro.