‘Cats’ a must see | SummitDaily.com

‘Cats’ a must see

KIMBERLY NICOLETTIsummit daily news
Special to the DailyAndrew Lloyd Webbers Cats, based on the poetry of T.S. Eliot, runs through May 1 at Boulders Dinner Theatre.

BOULDER – Large golden cat eyes glow in the dark, peering from under a tattered sofa, the backseat of a rusted coupe and an old television box in the Jellicle cats’ junkyard.The lights come up, and the stage fills with showy cats of all kinds – cute orange and white tabbies, dynamic alley cats and a slinky Siamese. And the Jellicle Ball begins.”Cats,” playing at Boulder’s Dinner Theatre, portrays Jellicle cats meeting to determine who will have a chance to go to kitty heaven and start a new life. Every year, they meet at the Jellicle Ball where the leader appears and chooses one special cat to go to heaven.Andrew Lloyd Webber wrote music based on T.S. Eliot’s book of poems, “Old Possum’s Book of Practical Cats and Growltiger’s Last Stand.” Webber originally intended on creating a concert piece, but the idea multiplied, thus producing “Cats.” The musical debuted in 1981 in London, ushering in what many critics call the dawn of the modern musical.

The show, which local London press predicted would be a “dog,” quickly became one of the biggest hits in West End history, and a year later it became a hit on Broadway. It earned seven Tony Awards in 1983 and ran on Broadway for 18 years, surpassing “A Chorus Line” as the longest-running musical. It also holds the record for the longest-running national tour.Though the production of “Cats” at Boulder’s Dinner Theatre doesn’t include actors from the national tour, the cast delivers a rousing performance.Shelly Cox-Robie gives a soaring rendition of “Memory” that equals any Broadway performance.Summit High School 1983 graduate Scott Beyette plays a prominent role as Rum Tum Tugger. Dressed in spandex with a studded black leather belt and faux leopard fur collar, his Elvis-like aura shoots through the theater.

The rest of the cast captivates the audience with just as much energy and finesse, often playing with guests by slinking through the aisles, messing up women’s hair and even accepting a few spoonfuls of chocolate mousse when a guest offers the treat right before the second act.The “cats” make the demanding choreography – complete with high kicks, leaps, turns and double cartwheels – look like second nature. And the cast’s acting makes one think they must have spent weeks surrounded by real cats, picking up mannerisms that make children and adults laugh with delight.The best way to enjoy “Cats” is to revel in the costumes, song and dance in each number. As the introduction points out, “Cats” has no “deep, profound message.” It’s light, playful and fun – much like cats themselves.Boulder’s Dinner Theatre provides the perfectly intimate setting for “Cats,” because much of the magic of the production involves the makeup. Each Jellicle cat stands out with personal makeup, and because the theater only holds 284 people in a four-tiered U-shape surrounding the stage, everyone can see the artistic faces up-close.Before the show, the theater serves an excellent dinner, with choices ranging from fish and prime rib to chicken cordon bleu, Caesar salad and cheese ravioli.

One of the more unique aspects of the theater involves the actors waiting tables. They take orders and serve meals before the show then re-emerge during a 30-minute intermission to serve dessert and drinks. The intermission gives guests a good chance to interact with the actors – dressed in full makeup – who are more than willing to answer questions about their experiences.If you’re looking for musical dinner theater, Boulder’s Dinner Theatre is the cat’s meow.For more information, call (800) 448-5501 or visit http://www.theatreinboulder.com.Kimberly Nicoletti can be reached at (970) 668-3998, ext. 245, or at knicoletti@summitdaily.com.

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