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'Cats' at the Marriott Theatre

Ready for a taste of life as a cat? Then you're in luck as Andrew Lloyd Webber's 'CATS' is back at Lincolnshire's Marriott Theatre.

The performance of Andrew Lloyd Webber’s critically acclaimed 'Cats' opened on April 2 at the Marriott Theatre in Lincolnshire, Illinois. Staying true to its magical element and upbeat music that gained its amazing reputation across the world, the cast, director, set members, and producers manage to put on a wonderful performance. It is the perfect musical for any age group with the audience present at the premiere ranging from children through senior citizens. Bringing smiles to everyone faces along with its interactive element 'Cats' truly transports the audience into its world.

The play itself was the longest running musical in the history of British theater starting in 1981 and gained international recognition due to its wide success. Webber based the show on T.S. Eliot’s poems and as he was writing the musical Eliot’s estate reportedly insisted the show contain no words except those found in his poems. The director of the version performed today is none other than Marc Robin. Robin presented his first version of the musical at the Marriott in 2003, and the location could not suit the musical better. With its center stage everyone in the audience has equal vantage points and the actors are either below or at eye level, not the traditional theater set up. This allows for a more integrated and whimsical performance, creating a tone of fun and intimacy bringing people closer to the “Jellicle Ball.” The Jellicle Ball is an annual cats reunion where the group gathers to decide which cat will be granted another life and in this play, compassion for an old “Glamour Cat” named Grizabella who has repeatedly been maltreated and bullied by the other cats. It is a wonderful performance and is directed perfectly.

“For me cats is about something, it’s about family, it’s about being exiled from a community and embraced one again back into that community. We all go through it. CATS can be about something if you make it about something” said Robin about his show he has 11 years of experience with.

Throughout the show the attention to detail by the director, producer, costume and set design as well as the cast members is apparent. The makeup is extensive, as the actors are literally transformed into their specific cat. Their faces become those mimicking cats and the way they walk and act imitates the sashay-ing movement you see when a cat walks. Similarly, the costume design is mainly a licra-like substance, wearing a full body sort of leotard in different colors with certain designs to match different kinds of traditional cat furs. One of the most impressive costumes is that of Rum-Tum-Tugger, the “rocker” cat as is the costume worn by Macavity, the villain cat. Every single costume makes the performance better with a variety of colors, crazy hairstyles and even tails attached to the actors bodies. Similarly, the dancing is right on target as each musical piece was perfect, with every actor in sync during the group pieces and the individual dancers are astonishing with their grace and power. The dancing is not the only impressive form of physical activity as there is a variety of acrobatics and gymnastics thrown into the play. There are back handsprings, flips, and even acrobats swinging to and from the hanging cages in the setting. The musical element matches the high praise for the rest of the performance. The voices are chilling, especially Grizabella’s performance of “Memory” making you feel for the outcast cat and leaving you wanting to hear more. Other songs, as well as being musically appealing are also fun. One of the songs creating the most laughter and smiles out of the audience was “Mungojerrie and Rumpelteazer” the two troublemaker cats who sing about driving humans crazy by breaking vases or stealing jewelry. Overall, the music is wonderful putting the audience in a good mood throughout and after the performance.

The cast has some actors known throughout the Chicago Broadway scene. Starring Heidi Kettenring as “Grizabella” and Matthew R. Jones as “Old Deuteronomy.” Kettenring has starred on the national tour of Disney’s 'Beauty and the Beast' as well as in 'Wicked'. Jones has starred in 'Phantom of the Opera' as well as Broadway’s 'Titanic'. These acclaimed actors along with the rest of the cast members make for a delightful time at the Marriott Theatre.