I Wish I Were a Jellicle Cat

Written by Raine Jeffers, Contributing Writer for InFluential Magazine

I recently had the extreme pleasure of seeing the beloved musical Cats based on Old Possum’s Book of Practical Cats by T. S. Eliot as presented by Lexus Broadway in Austin at Texas Performing Arts. The performance was at the Bass Concert Hall in downtown Austin. When I walked into the concert hall I noticed beautiful string bulb lights hanging from the top balcony all the way down to the stage. It immediately drew me onto the main stage, the set decorated with the view of a foggy full moon shining through what I think was an alley. As the lights went down and the opening music began to play, small pairs of bright green eyes started to appear in the set. More revealed themselves by the second and there were some in the isles of the spectators scurrying around. The eyes disappear and the music becomes quiet as the play begins.

The North American Tour Company of CATS. Photo by Matthew Murphy. 2019

The North American Tour Company of CATS. Photo by Matthew Murphy. 2019

It opens with arguably the catchiest song Jellicle Songs for Jellicle Cats. As all the cats emerged from their hidden spots on the set and crawl their way to the center of the stage, you truly felt the skill involved to play such roles. Everyone moved with such grace and expert precision, I got transformed into a new world. The costumes were absolutely mesmerizing, the detail really added to the character’s overall personalities. Victoria Tinsman (Hair and Makeup Design Coordinator) and Abigail Hahn (Associate Costume Designer) did a beautiful job making them come to life.

Dan Hoy as 'Munkustrap' and the North American Tour of CATS. Photo by Matthew Murphy.2019

Dan Hoy as ‘Munkustrap’ and the North American Tour of CATS. Photo by Matthew Murphy.2019

Each actor is worth noting, but I must say one standout performance was the musical number The Rum Tum Tugger, Rum Tum Tugger played brilliantly by McGee Maddox. Anyone who has seen this musical previously knows this character has a huge personality. He absolutely lit the stage up with so much attitude and even engaged with the audience in a way only his character could get away with. On top of that amazing performance, I know the whole room was moved by Keri René fuller, who played Grizabella the former glamour queen who was past her time. When she performed “Memory”, you could’ve heard a pin drop on the floor, nobody wanted to miss a word.

The North American Tour Company of CATS. Photo by Matthew Murphy. 2019

The North American Tour Company of CATS. Photo by Matthew Murphy. 2019

Associate Director and Choreographer Chrissie Cartwright certainly put together an amazing show with smooth scene changes and a clear focus. I highly encourage anyone to see this production when you get a chance, It brought us all on a journey and by the end, I was a little upset that I myself wasn’t a Jellicle cat.

The North American Tour Company of CATS. Photo by Matthew Murphy. 2019

The North American Tour Company of CATS. Photo by Matthew Murphy. 2019

Visit Lexus Broadway in Austin at https://austin.broadway.com/shows/cats/ for more details about the performance and purchasing tickets.  The Final Show is schedule for Sunday, May 12.