Regional Reviews: Seattle
Cats at The Paramount Theatre
It may be that Cats truly is now and forever! Though it finally ended on Broadway awhile back the touring editions keep coming back to Seattle. Not having visited the show in several returns, the current energetically cast production was able to win over this non-Lloyd Webber-phile, and the hearts of many children in the audience whose parents were tots when the show first played in the eighties.
Cats' tour director/choreographer never strays from the successful, original model direction by Trevor Nunn and choreography by Gillian Lynne, and the set and costumes are still the original designs, naturally modified to tour, by David Hersey and John Napier, respectively. But the cast commits itself fervently to the task at hand and the result was an evening that flew by.
Especially notable in the cast are Karl Warden's truly magical Mister Mistoffelees, Kevin C. Wanzor's heart tugging turn as Old Gus/Asparagus the theatre cat, Mario Martinez and Katy Burns' delicious duet as Mungojerrie and Rumpleteazer, and Adam Lenderman's sprightly Skimbleshanks the railway cat. Dee Roscioli's Grizabella is physically and vocally a bit to young to thoroughly convince as the timeworn glamour cat, though she won strong applause for her rendition of the show's only breakout pop hit, "Memory." And Stan Stanley is a perfect, strutting Rum Tum Tugger, but he needs to stop drawing focus from his litter box mates when he is not central to the action.
I have grown more fond of this particular Lloyd Webber score through the years, with its clever/poignant lyrics adapted from T.S. Eliot's "Old Possums Book of Practical Cats." Lloyd Webber doesn't seem to be borrowing melodies here, either from others or from himself, and all of the songs etch a clever portrait of the cat about whom they describe. And what with community and school theatres just beginning to have access to the property, it can hardly be in doubt that this mega-success will never run the risk of fading into memory.
Cats at the Paramount Theatre, 9th & Pine St in downtown Seattle, through May 11. For information visit The Paramount online at www.theparamount.com.- David-Edward Hughes