Cat eyes were glaring at you in the dark. Cats snarling, hissing, purring at the audience began this latest production of “Cats” at the Orpheum Theater this past weekend.
The costuming, make-up, and the idea of being a part of the cat world were outstanding. Each of the performers showed excellence in their singing, dancing, and acting. When the full company sang together, the sounds were well-blended and rich.
Being that this play is based on a T. S. Eliot poem, there is not an involved storyline. Simply stated, the cats annually choose one of the elderly cats who ascend to a space ship to be reborn.
Unfortunately for the audience, the sound system was not balanced at the performance I saw and caused confusion for those who did not have some background with the unusual musical. For me this was evident when the stranger sitting next to me kept asking if there was a purpose. As stated earlier in the promotional piece in this paper, ‘“Cats” is just one of those things, you either love it or you just don’t get it.”’ With the accompaniment overwhelming much of the first act and although better, it still was a problem for the rest of the show. It was difficult to hear the words this talented company of actors were attempting to communicate.
From my perspective, the musical was written around the song, “Memory”. This was the reoccurring theme throughout and this one melody was the unifying element of the multiple threads.
When there was an obvious problem with one of the microphones, one entire song was sung with only hearing the male part of a duet. The show was stopped to fix the problem and resumed with that particular scene being replayed. The two actors repeated their scene, amplified, and the audience showed their heartfelt appreciation.
Certain actors though always stand out. Mr. Mistoffeless, Chaz Wolcott was outstanding with his dancing and who could not like Rum Tum Tugger who seemed to portray a cat with the personality of Bobby Wheeler portrayed by Jeff Conaway from the old series, “Taxi”.
Did I like it? I think it depends on your perspective. I viewed it through the eyes of the many faces of all of us aging, then the “Memories” that are so important to each of us. No matter whether you understand it or not, this talented company of performers was outstanding.