Review: CATS a Thrilling Spectacle at Bass Concert Hall

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GroupCATS by Matthew Murphy. 2019 (1)
Cast of CATS. (photos by Matthew Murphy)

Tuesday night, I attended the opening of CATS at Bass Concert Hall, part of the UT Performing Arts season of Broadway Across America.

It was a raucous, high energy, nearly overwhelming spectacle of music, voices, dance, and costumes. In short, it was fun. And if you don’t stop to puzzle about the almost complete lack of plot, then you’re golden.

Keri René Fuller as Grizabella in the North American Tour of CATS. Photo by Matthew Murphy 2019

Keri René Fuller as Grizabella

I recommend that you suspend your search for a deeper meaning, and let yourself be carried along through a series of musical numbers separated by an extremely minimal level of dialog. Each number introduces a different cat (or two) and explores its, ahem, personality — and proclivities.

There’s the railway cat (Skimbleshanks), the stage door cat (Gus), the mischievous cat burglars (Mungojerrie and Rumpleteaser), and the patriarch (Old Deuteronomy). There’s the now-elderly glamour cat (Grizabella), who sings a crowd-pleasing rendition of the show’s hit “Memories”) and the flashy, Elvis-like cat that sends the girls swooning (Rum Tum Tugger). There’s the sly trickster (the magical Mr. Misstoffelees), the uncatchable criminal (Macavity), and a fat, self-satisfied, bourgeois (Bustopher Jones). And that’s not even all of them.

McGee Maddox as _Rum Tug Tugger_ and the North American Tour Company of CATS. Photo by Matthew Murphy. 2019
McGee Maddox as Rum Tum Tugger

The sheer variation of musical styles and choreography is dizzying, but in a good way. Some are funny, some are sexy, some are moving, and some strive to be a bit frightening. One cannot get bored. The athleticism of some of the dancers was astonishing.

If you’re looking for something that will blow you away, CATS is recommended. It’s showing at Bass through Sunday, May 12.

 

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