Written By | Klarque Garrison
Andrew Lloyd Webber has written 13 musicals(and is an impresario of the Musical Theatre)none more beautiful than the one running August 6th 2019 in Atlanta, Georgia at the renowned Fox Theater.On this night,at the historic venue built in 1929 as a movie palace,we witness this current iteration of “CATS”.
“Cats”, a run through musical based on the 1939 poetry book “Old Possum’s Book of Practical Cats by T.S. Eliot”,tells the story of a tribe of cats called the Jellicles and the night they make the “Jellicle choice”, deciding which cat will ascend to the Heaviside Layer and come back to a new life. The house was packed with a rainbow of fans both young and old, local and visitor. I had the pleasure of sitting behind a mother daughter who came dressed entirely like cats!As we filed into the theater one witnessed a throng of patrons taking photos outside and in front of the Marquee. Once inside you got your first look at the majestic Moorish Architectural space. Some made their way to their seats, some stood in line for refreshments and others like me took in the din of sounds which rang out everywhere. This would be my 3rd time being apart of this play, but glancing over the playbill I knew this would be different. This version gave way to the Choreography of Andy Blankenbuehler (Hamilton) alongside longtime director Trevor Nunn and set & Costume Designer John Napier. Andy is quoted as saying “So many millions of people have a love affair with the show, I feel it is important to give them what they remember”. He goes on to say “I don’t want to break the DNA of the show,but I want to move it a little more quickly,deepen the storytelling and strengthen the characterizations, so that when audiences see the show, it will be something they remember, but which happens in a way that is not familiar.”
The show starts with the lead (“Jellicle Songs for Jellicle Cats”).As each character pours his or her way onto the stage (many of them coming from behind us down the aisles) making their grand entrances you couldn’t help but notice the eerily beautiful set Napier had constructed. The first act gives way to one of the most important parts of the play. We are introduced to “Old Deuteronomy”contemplating what happiness is.It seemed as if the audience of the nearly packed house followed the story line perfectly.I myself was patiently awaiting my favorite classical tune of this legendary tale. “Grizabella”addressing the cats gathering around whiles singing “Memory”. You don’t have to be a fan of CATS to have at the very least heard this classic tune. I spent the rest of the play soaking in this wonderful moment in time which I hope many of you will do the same when CATS the Musical comes to a theater near you.