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Theater review: Crowd-pleasing national tour of 'Cats' casts a spell

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The North American tour company of "Cats" performs. [Matthew Murphy]
The North American tour company of "Cats" performs. [Matthew Murphy]

A fancy feast for the senses, perhaps no other mainstream musical taps into the strange magic of live theater more nimbly than Andrew Lloyd Webber’s “Cats.”

After an 18-year stint that earned seven Tonys and a place on the list of the Broadway's longest-running titles, the 2016 “Cats” revival was a hit, cuing the national tour playing through Sunday at the Civic Center.

Based on T.S. Eliot’s “Old Possum's Book of Practical Cats,” the crowd-pleaser follows a tribe of felines called the Jellicle Cats gathering for their annual ball, where leader Old Deuteronomy (Brandon Michael Nase) picks one mouser to be reborn.

The episodic narrative focuses largely on meeting the cats through song and dance, including the fickle Rum Tum Tugger (McGee Maddox); twin troublemakers Mungojerrie and Rumpleteazer (Tony d’Alelio and Rose Iannaccone); and gourmand Bustopher Jones (Timothy Gulan). The tribe members also make nominations for the cat to be reborn, including Jennyanydots (Emily Jeanne Phillips), who at night schools the mice and cockroaches via a zesty tap number; Gus (Gulan again), an aged theater cat; and Grizabella (Oklahoma native Keri Rene Fuller), a once-glamorous outcast.

With a plot thinner than a starving alley cat, the show is about creating an immersive experience; although it starts rather slowly, the new production mostly succeeds, thanks to committed performances and Natasha Katz’s shining lighting design.

Highlights like the sprightly turn by Tion Gaston as “the original conjuring cat” on the showstopper “Magical Mister Mistoffelees"and Fuller's rousing rendition of the beloved ballad “Memory" affirmed that the singular magic of "Cats" is best experienced live and in person.

For tickets and information, go to www.okcbroadway.com.

— Brandy McDonnell, The Oklahoman

Related Photos
<strong>McGee Maddox plays Rum Tum Tugger in the national touring production of "Cats." [Matthew Murphy]</strong>

McGee Maddox plays Rum Tum Tugger in the national touring production of "Cats." [Matthew Murphy]

<figure><img src="//cdn2.newsok.biz/cache/r960-eaecab2698ccbf16fe9a40828c50d660.jpg" alt="Photo - McGee Maddox plays Rum Tum Tugger in the national touring production of "Cats." [Matthew Murphy] " title=" McGee Maddox plays Rum Tum Tugger in the national touring production of "Cats." [Matthew Murphy] "><figcaption> McGee Maddox plays Rum Tum Tugger in the national touring production of "Cats." [Matthew Murphy] </figcaption></figure><figure><img src="//cdn2.newsok.biz/cache/r960-d8c413227e9f9d5f646ac82699aff02e.jpg" alt="Photo - The North American tour company of "Cats" performs. [Matthew Murphy] " title=" The North American tour company of "Cats" performs. [Matthew Murphy] "><figcaption> The North American tour company of "Cats" performs. [Matthew Murphy] </figcaption></figure>
Brandy McDonnell

Brandy McDonnell, also known by her initials BAM, writes stories and reviews on movies, music, the arts and other aspects of entertainment. She is NewsOK’s top blogger: Her 4-year-old entertainment news blog, BAM’s Blog, has notched more than 1... Read more ›

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