The lithe and melodious characters from Andrew Lloyd Webber’s “Cats” will return to Proctors’ MainStage on Tuesday for a six-day run.
Based on T.S. Eliot’s “Old Possum’s Book of Practical Cats,” the musical tells the story of one night when the Jellicle Cats tribe gathers for an annual ball to rejoice and decide which cat will be reborn. It opened on Broadway at the Winter Garden Theatre in 1982 and ran for 7,485 performances over the course of 18 years.
The Tony Award-winning musical returned to Broadway in 2016 at the Neil Simon Theatre, where it ran through 2017. Two years later, a movie adaptation was produced with a star-studded cast including Taylor Swift, Jennifer Hudson, Judie Dench and others.
Though the film was panned, the musical has maintained a fanbase. The national touring production features the original score by Webber, which includes “Memory,” one of the most famous songs in the musical theater genre. The production also includes original scenic and costume design by John Napier, lighting design by Natasha Katz and sound design by Mick Potter.
For those who might have seen the musical a few times over the years, this version features new choreography from Andy Blankenbuehler, known for his work on “Hamilton,” “In the Heights” and “Bandstand,” (which Niskayuna native Robert Taylor co-wrote). Even with Blankenbuehler’s updates, the choreography remains rooted in the original work by Gillian Lynne.
The cast includes Tayler Harris as Grizabella, who sings the standout tune “Memory,” and starts as an outcast who wants to return to the Jellicle Cats. Harris, a Portland, Oregon native who is also a singer/songwriter, makes her national tour debut in the role.
“It’s truly an honor to be a part of the ongoing legacy of this role … I am the fifth Black woman to play Grizabella so that’s truly an honor,” Harris told Fort Worth Magazine late last year.
“There are three words that everyone in the show received while getting ready for the character in mind. We’re ‘proud, hurt, and indomitable’ for Grizabella. Right when I go on to sing ‘Memory,’ I’m always just thinking about everything I have worked for leading up to this moment to get me here night after night doing this, just going, wow. I have worked so hard and just manifested and prayed for this, and how truly special it is to share the song with so many wonderful human beings on stage. It’s a moment that, while I’m very much in the spotlight, it’s also just so beautiful to connect with everyone one on one.”
Harris stars alongside Chelsea Nicole Mitchell, who plays Bombalurina, one of the main female singers who helps introduce the other cats. The cast also includes, among other actors, Paul Giarratano, who makes his national tour debut, playing Mistoffelees, a tuxedo cat with magical powers he can’t yet control. For the full cast list and more about the show, visit ustour.catsthemusical.com.
WHEN: 7:30 p.m. Tuesday and Wednesday; 1 and 8 p.m. Thursday, May 5; 8 p.m. Friday, May 6; 2 and 8 p.m. Saturday, May 7 and 2 p.m. Sunday, May 8
MORE INFO: proctors.org
NOTE: Proctors and Mohawk Hudson Humane Society will hold a Kittens Night on Broadway on Thursday, May 5. Kids and teenagers, aged 18 and under, can attend the Thursday evening show of “Cats” for free when accompanied by a full-paying adult using the code KNOB.
For 90 minutes before the performance, Proctors arcade will be full of local vendors each with their own free cat-themed activity for children and families. The Spicy Purrito, a local cat-themed store, will bring a DIY cat toy “spider” for kids to make at home. Jakes Jammin Bowties will have a game for attendees to try and win a set of two free bow ties. Adirondack Bakery will have dog and cat treats along with animal coloring pages. Face painting will also be available, sponsored by Kids Arts Festival.