February 16, 2006


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Herding CATS
Actorsingers begins work to localize Broadway icon
By Robert Greene rgreene@hippopress.com

The second longest running Broadway musical of all time (it was recently topped by Phantom of the Opera) and perhaps the one most viewed by the average Joe is about to get the local treatment.

The Actorsingers version of CATS, by Andrew Lloyd Webber, is in the rehearsal stage, organizers say, and they promise it will not only be the first local production of the show, but also the best.

“It’s really going to be totally different from what people will tend to expect,” said Donna O’Bryant, choreographer for the show. “We are going to deviate from the Broadway show substantially.”

Gone will be the familiar junkyard setting, she said, to be replaced by a rooftop. The dancing, more ballet-inspired for the Broadway show, will be more akin to jazz dancing.

O’Bryant said the changes were made for artistic reasons, not to cope with the smaller budget and space Actorsingers will bring to the show.

“The director knows there is no way we can replicate Broadway,” she said, “so we had to find a new way of looking at it.”

Eighty-four people auditioned for the show and 41 were cast. Each of those cast will be fitted with a handmade costume and taught to do his own “cat” makeup.

“It’s really going to be totally different from anything Actorsingers has done before,” O’Bryant said.

The show will run in Nashua’s Keefe Auditorium May 5 to 7, then it will pack up — lock, stock and litter box — for a June 9-10 run at City Auditorium in Concord. Tickets sales, around $15 a pop, will begin in March.

Plenty of people will be most familiar with CATS as a punchline to a Saturday Night Live skit. You know, the one where the Broadway hypnotist (played by Jon Lovitz) mesmerizes his audience into responding to any questions about his show by saying, “I loved it. It was much better than CATS. I’m going to see it again and again.” But the show really does have a plot. Sort of.

It seems the Jellicles, a tribe of English cats, are meeting up for their annual, at which the winner of the “Jellicle Choice” will be determined. The winner apparently gets a reboot on the whole nine lives deal, and has to audition — through song and dance — for the honor. Complicating matters is the fact that the tribe’s leader has been kidnapped. Then the old-lady cat sings “Memory” and gets to be reborn. Meow, baby.

To keep up with show developments, bookmark the Web site at actorsingers.org

02/09/2006 An actors' studio
02/02/2006 A thing about love
01/26/2006 Spring theater season warming up
01/19/2006 Gearing up for the big night
01/12/2006 This Phantom is not a menace
01/05/2006 Jim Kelly, sci-fi writer and alternate historian
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Under the Caribbean with the little mermaid

Wake up to ‘night Mother