Yesterday, I saw Cats at the Segerstrom Center for the Arts. After experiencing the Pacific Chorale’s annual Tis the Season at Segerstrom Center, I longed to return. It is committed to supporting artistic excellence on and off the stage. The futuristic design and quality seating make viewing performances comfortable for everyone, including vastly-growing pregnant ladies. People who have seen Cats often rave over the costumes, makeup, and its choreographer’s ability to train humans to do what comes naturally to cats, but they seldom are able to explain the plot of the pussy cat production. Putting perplexity aside, Cats is Andrew Lloyd Webber’s record-breaking musical based on T.S.Eliot’s, Old Possum’s Book of Practical Cats that offers insight into the night time life of cats at the Jellicle Ball. Cats believes in “purrly” theatrical magic, and on that faith it unquestionably delivers.
Cats is a musical in two acts about a tribe of Cats who gather once a year to choose a member of the tribe to be reincarnated. The musical showcases characters from all walks of life who are metaphors of characters from different parts of society. Their stories are told through the poetry of T.S. Eliot and relationships are presented through choreography.
Segerstrom Hall is transform into a huge nocturnal junkyard for Eliot’s flighty jellicle cats. Well before the lights went down, I felt emerged in the surroundings and magically placed in a mysterious, infinite land. The lifting spaceship brought us on a journey through the stars to a cloud-streaked moon as the lights went down and cats lurked in the isles.
Luxuriantly outfitted in whiskers, electronically glowing eyes, mask-like makeup, and every variety of feline costume, a top-notch troupe of American singer-dancers distinctly used cat-like movements to give each cat its own personality.
The songs give each cat his or her voice. If there is a point to Eliot’s catcycle, it is simply that ”cats are much like you and me.” As his verses personify all manner of cat, so do the tuneful melodies to which Mr. Lloyd Webber has set them. Among many others, the eclectic musical sources include swing (for the busy Gumbie cat), rock (the insolent Rum Tum Tugger), Richard Rodgers-style Orientalism (a pack of Siamese) and Henry Mancini’s detective-movie themes (Macavity, the Napoleon of crime).
There were a few performers that stood out beyond the rest. There wasn’t an arm or neck in the building that wasn’t covered in goosebumps when Melissa Grohowski, Grizabella, belted out Memory towards the end of the show. She nailed it with such a strong and powerful voice that I will forever be in awe of that moment she sang out, “Touch me! It’s so easy to leave me all alone with the memory of my days in the sun. If you touch me you’ll understand what happiness is…”. The power and the desperation in her voice was overwhelming. Even if you don’t understand what Cats is about, there is no denying what Grizzabella was going through. There was one cool cat with some tricks up his sleeve and some jump in his step. The Magical Mr. Mistoffelees, Chaz Wolcott, was enchanting as he spun, and spun, and spun his way to a mesmerizing performance. His impeccable ballet skills and dance moves were enjoyed by the entire audience and when he stepped on stage for the final curtain call the audience rose to their feet for a standing ovation. Many of the other performers performed wonderfully, showcasing their acrobatics, dancing skills, and voice. Although their characters were not as memorable as others, they were still essential to the show.
Don’t miss the opportunity to view a great moment in theatre right here in Orange County. For more information on tickets, you can go the Segerstrom Center for the Arts website or call (714) 556-2787.