After the enticing opening number (“Jellicle Songs for Jellicle Cats”), the audience is introduced to a series of cats in consideration for the journey above. The first contender is humorous Jennyanydots (a.k.a. the Old Gumbie Cat), gleefully portrayed by Michelle E. Carter. Tapping up a storm in bright orange fringe (original costumer John Napier’s designs remain first-rate), Carter’s radiance is an early tone-setting highlight.
Zach Bravo as Rum Tum Tugger in the national tour of Andrew Lloyd Webber’s Tony Award-winning “Cats,” presented by the Premier Health Broadway in Dayton series at the Schuster Center in Dayton on Tuesday, Nov. 23.
Credit: CONTRIBUTED PHOTO
Credit: CONTRIBUTED PHOTO
THE RUM TUM TUGGER
Zach Bravo attacks with flashy flair as the attention-seeking, seductive and strutting Rum Tum Tugger. Conveying his role with a delightful Adam Lambert-esque bravado, Bravo proves he’s a natural showman and there’s no use doing anything about it.
GUS THE THEATRE CAT
In one of the production’s most touching, poignant moments, Gus the Theatre Cat, elderly and coping with palsy, reflects on his glory days on the stage. John Anker Bow, unhurried and meaningful, charmingly captures Gus’ warm sentiments with gentle remembrance and a very magnetic demeanor. Bow also receives lovely support from Kayli Jamison, who introduces Gus’ story as Jellylorum.
Decked out in an amazing technicolor jacket, Paul Giarratano displays exceptional balletic finesse as the wonderfully whimsical Mistoffelees, who comes to the aid of Old Deuteronomy (impressive tenor Indalecio De Jesús Valentín). Giarratano glides across the stage with graceful ease and an infectious exuberance befitting his sprightly role.
GRIZABELLA, THE GLAMOUR CAT
As the glamorous-turned-ostracized Grizabella, Tayler Harris has the plum assignment: to sing “Memory” with every fiber of her being. Thankfully, she embraces the giant task without one morsel of melodrama or histrionics. Harris’ remarkably beautiful rendition, firmly planted in the wistfulness of Grizabella’s past and her hope for a redemptive future, leaps forth with passionate power, giving credence to the joy that comes with second chances.
HOW TO GO
Where: Schuster Center, Second and Main Streets, Dayton
When: Through Nov. 28; 7:30 p.m. Wednesday, 1:30 p.m. and 7:30 p.m. Friday, 2 p.m. and 8 p.m. Saturday, and 1 p.m. and 6:30 p.m. Sunday
Tickets: Call 937-228-3630 or visit daytonlive.org
FYI: Masks are required for patrons over the age of 6
Wright State University graduate Megan Arseneau is touring with "CATS." Here, she is pictured as the Gumbie Cat, one of six roles she is covering. The show opens at the Shuster in Dayton on Tuesday. CONTRIBUTED