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Choreography tells 'Cats' story at Marriott Theatre

Old Deuteronomy (Matthew R. Jones) and Grizabella (Heidi Kettenring)
Old Deuteronomy (Matthew R. Jones) and Grizabella (Heidi Kettenring)
Marriott Theatre

"Cats"

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If you like the music of Andrew Lloyd Webber and shows that basically portray emotions and story line through dance, you will appreciate the Marriott Theatre’s version of “Cats” playing now through Mary 25, 2014.

Director/choreographer Marc Robin has his cast telling their stories, foibles and elation through ballet, jazz and acrobatic movements.

The musical is Webber’s interpretation of poems by T. S. Eliot from Eliot’s “Old Possum’s Book of Practical Cats.” When writing the show Webber was supposedly limited by an Eliot estate agreement to only incorporate words used in the poems.

Along with Robin’s excellent story-telling choreography and Ryan T. Nelson’s fine direction of Webber’s music, the Marriott show also benefits from Heidi Kettenring’s (“Beauty and the Beast”, “Wicked”) portrayal of the tattered Grizabella, the once glamorous cat. Kettenring breaks the audience heart with “Memory.”

Because the entire stage and even the aisles are used for dance movements, don’t look for props on stage. Instead, the audience is surrounded by the set.

The front of the darkened box where conductor/keyboardist Patti Garwood and her orchestra play is labeled Russell Hotel.

Indeed there is a Hotel Russell in London a few blocks from the British Museum and some songs do refer to London locations. And “Cats” premiered in London (1981).

Set designer Tom Ryan has other buildings and their signs form a circular backdrop behind the audience.

Maybe that is a clue that cast movements are not confined to the stage. To feel like you are part of the show, try to get a ticket on an aisle or near the stage. Some cats like to roam. Of course, some cats, like one in a poem, just like to sit on a sill.

The lighting, designed by Jesse Klug, also is essential in spotlighting cat characters and movements.

Details: “Cats” is at Marriott Theatre, 10 Marriott Drive, Lincolnshire, IL, through May 25, 2014. For tickets and more information call 847-634-0200 and visit Marriott Theatre.