Even though some people believe its storyline is difficult to follow, Andrew Lloyd Webber’s “Cats” continues to be a favorite in musical theater.
Kenny Grossman, artistic director of Spotlight Youth Theatre, said he chose to purr into the 2011-2012 season with the show for this reason.
“It’s considered one of the greatest musicals in theater history,” Grossman said. “You have some incredible music, dancing and fabulous characters.”
“Cats,” which debuted on Broadway in 1982, is based on the T.S. Eliot poems “Old Possom’s Book of Practical Cats.”
The plot revolves around a tribe of cats, who meet once a year at the Jellicle Ball with their leader, Old Deuteronomy. They eventually decide who among the group of felines should be reborn.
Lloyd Webber’s “Cats” made history as the second-longest running show in Broadway history and the fourth longest on the West End in London. The composer’s signature tune “Memory,” has become a pop culture staple and covered by many, including Susan Boyle, and was in the movie “The School of Rock.”
Grossman said he knew the musical, which features intricate makeup, costumes and choreography, would be perfect for Spotlight.
“The intimacy of our theater makes it the right place to perform, and not many youth theaters tackle ‘Cats,’” he said.
In addition, Grossman said there’s a cult following to the classic musical.
When casting the show, Grossman said he was pleased with the amount of talented actors who auditioned.
“You’ll be surprised at how great these young men and women are,” Grossman said.
Even though it’s a youth troupe production of “Cats,” he believes it’s first-rate like an adult version.
“Youth theater is real theater and some people have a perception that it’s not, but that is not the case here,” he said.
Lynzee Paul 4man, choreographer of “Cats,” said she agrees with Grossman on the talent for Spotlight’s production.
“For a show like this, it’s important to have great dancers and all of the kids who showed up were brilliant,” she said.
4man, whose husband Mark 4man serves as the musical director, said she’s excited about the production, which she’s never choreographed before.
“There are so many different styles of dance to capture, including tap, ballet and jazz, then you have to make them gel together,” she said.
Due to the rigorous choreography, 4man said she’s trained the actors with workouts to prepare them for the intense dances.
“We’re training them just like athletes and doing lots of stretches, because you have to be prepared for a show like this,” she said.