Albuquerque Little Theatre's CATS: The Final Review
Anyone who has ever worked in theatre or film knows that perfect cohesion amongst all involved is rare. Where people enjoy coming in, love the company of their fellow crew or cast members and have a genuine passion for the creative material they are producing. Often fractures form during the show and a war of egos soon rages between members of the cast and crew. What is supposed to be a fun time then degenerates and the effects can be seen on stage. Production of the show can be considered one of the most harmonious in recent years. A perfect blend of talent and technicians where there was little in-fighting or disagreement. Especially with a cast as large as CATS, such stable cooperation is incredibly rare, especially in the community theatre world.
The exception of the rule is CATS. Assembled by first time director TJ Bowlin this cast was cohesive from the starting line. Everyone wanted to be a part of it and everyone enjoyed it. By week two of rehearsals the show was well on its way to shattering Albuquerque Little Theatre's revenue records, closing at number one in the company's 80+ year history.
A conscious decision was made to take the Broadway musical up a notch. Obviously the community theatre scene did not have the budget for the show's otherwise extremely elaborate costumes and sets, the effort was instead expended on the choreography. This version employed two choreographers. In almost every way, the choreography was equal to, if not, better than the original production. What was impressive was not just the complexity of the choreography, but the number of different dance styles that were showcased within. Tap dancing, line dancing, ballet to name a few.
Unique to this particular rendition of CATS was the clever use of puppetry. Bustopher Jones the big, fat, black and white cat, was a remarkable example of this. Instead of an actor, he was a gigantic puppet brought to the stage in pieces and assembled by the Cats during the number. The flawless execution always got a roar from the audience.
Macavity the Mystery Cat, the villain of the Jellicles and wanted for everything criminal also appears several times as a puppet in the distance. With his freaky green eyes flashing, a creepy laugh echoes across the theatre as the Macavity puppet pokes its huge flat head over the jellicle fence. While sounding good, the execution left something to be desired. No show is perfect.
Armed with the musical's illustrious history, it was little surprise that the show was an instant smash and one of Albuquerque Little Theatre's highest grossing shows to date. Much of its run was sold out and the cast received a standing ovation at nearly every curtain call. The closing of the show was the end of an incredible ship of harmony and professionalism.
Since the show's closing the cast has remained a tightly knit family. At Albuquerque Little Theatre's Annual Vivian Awards, nearly the entire cast reunited to perform several numbers from the show.