In order to be accepted into any cat society such as Jellicle cats, first accept the genuine and endearing sensual and sinuous approach to life that only felines master. In order to cast the musical “Cats” gather those felines in human form who have mastered cat hood in any one of their nine lives. In order to keep the music of Andrew Lloyd Webber pure, look first to the poems of T. S. Eliot because only Jellicle cats can sing with feline truth. At Jewel Box Theatre in Oklahoma City, Director and Choreographer Susan Webb has done just that. This is a cast of cats.
Musical Director Stephanie Moring works well with Webb to create the wonder of “Cats” in the songs, as each cat member emotes perfectly. But is it in the movement that the characterizations are most fully realized and Webb has choreographed the production so that it accommodates the area of performance and compliments those special talents of cats.
Costumer Mimi Lynch did not undertake the creation of costumes for the show, but her contributions in organizing the costumes supplied by Costume World Theatrical are evident. A simple set with a wonderfully defined floor space and excellent lighting gives the show an eerie look into the world of cats living within the confines of human society.
The largely ensemble cast cannot be credited individually, but they worked together as one in attitude and motion. There are a few notable stand outs that should be mentioned among the dancers and central characters. Makenna Smith takes the role of Grizabella with that unusual grace only cats can exhibit when age robs them of their vitality. Her heartfelt rendition of ‘Memory’ brings tears to the eyes. Bob Windsor as Old Gus is equally cat-like in his movements as the elderly cat from the theatre. His reminiscing is wonderfully executed. Randall Hunter as Deuteronomy is excellently portrayed as is Scott Hynes in his creation of Munkustrap. A personal favorite, Jennyanydots, is beautifully created by Elizabeth Dragoo and Megan Montgomery’s Jemima is equally delightful. Among the dancers, Emily Frances Brown as Victoria the white kitten is nicely done and Quincy Allen as Alonzo, the Rumpus Cat and Macavity dances exuberantly, expertly and with emotional honesty.
“Cats” is an ambitious project for a small company such as the Jewel Box Community Theatre; however, they have met the bar such a project raises and exceeding expectations marvelously. Almost everyone should see a superb performance of “Cats” somewhere along the line. There are many companies that tour the production. “Cats” is the second longest running Broadway Musical in history. “Cats” is a Tony Award Winner. For anybody who has not had the opportunity to see the professional production on Broadway or one of the many touring productions seeing this production of “Cats” will fulfill the promise.
“Cats” is a production for all humans whether ‘catty’ or not. Take the kids and the grandma and go. To Jewel Box Theatre Thursday through Saturday evenings at 8:00pm and Sunday afternoons at 2:30pm through September 16th. For reservations call 405-521-1786 and the box office answers Tuesday through Friday from 1:00pm until 6:00pm. The Jewel Box Theatre is located at the First Christian Church at 3700 N. Walker in Oklahoma City, Oklahoma.