For years “Cats” was the reigning heavyweight of Broadway. After running for 18 years, and as the second longest running show in Broadway history, this show has proven over and over to be an audience favorite. San Diego Musical Theatre hopes to reincarnate the magic with their current show, playing at the Birch North Park Theatre through April 6th.
Their show is a beautiful one, with a gorgeous set, lovely makeup and costumes, and a full cast. The cast has a strong singing ensemble with some stand out individual performances by Debbie Prutsman as Grizabella and Kurt Norby as Old Deuteronomy. Based on the T.S. Eliot’s “Old Possum’s Book of Practical Cats” is an introduction to “a variety of cats that gather once a year in the junkyard for their annual “Jellicile Ball”.
The set is the prettiest junkyard that you will ever see, and is sturdy since the people are singing and dancing all over it for the entire show. Considering how intimate the Birch North Park Theatre is the set the believability of the set is important to setting the scene. I very much wanted to go up and see how it all fit together, like a big jigsaw puzzle.
Choreographed by Janet Renslow, the show, which is all dancing is very impressive. The group moves in a beautiful and sometimes eerie unison, is simultaneously elegant and energetic, and all very catlike in my opinion. Standout dancers were the ballerina kitten played by Arielle Meads, and the cat burglers/tumblers Mungojerrie and Rumpleteazer.
One standout that I loved was the amazing 16 piece orchestra! They were fantastic and I love that there was such a large orchestra for this show. I have been to Broadway shows in New York with 9 people in the pit, so it's nice to know that San Diego Musical Theatre has a place for the talented musicians in San Diego.
At the end of this celebration one cat will be chosen to be reincarnated to a new Jellicle life. The decision is made by the head cat, Old Deuteronomy, and all the cats both revere him and try to convince him to pick them for the honor. Throw in an old glamour cat named Grizabella, whom the other cats are disenchanted with, a “monster of depravity” named Macavity, a magical cat, cat burglers, and more, and you have a full evening but little plot.
Yet, plot has never seemed to bother this show in the past, and it shouldn’t put you off of it now. This is a lovely show, with a strong cast and some excellent singing and dancing. Check it out before it’s gone on April 6th because unlike it’s subject characters, this show does not have 9 lives in San Diego.
San Diego Musical Theatre presents “Cats” at the Brich North Park Theatre through April 6th. For ticket information go to www.SDMT.org or call their box office at 619-239-8836.
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