CATS: Las Vegas
by Las Vegas Academy

The Jellicle cats have gathered again under the moon. And the Stardust. And a giant horseshoe. And several other accoutrements from old Las Vegas. For this is the setting of Las Vegas Academy’s spectacular production of Andrew Lloyd Webber’s award-winning musical Cats. A graveyard of Vegas relics from bygone days of Mafia-run casinos and slot machines that use real coins. Back when old, withered Grizabella was young. A day that she now knows only as a Memory.

Director Glenn Edwards and Co-Director/Choreographer Tammy Pessagno lead a production filled with tremendous dancing, singing, music, and visuals. The choreography is original, dynamic, frisky, and always plays to the theme, characters, and lyrics. And it's also very challenging – but the talented cast handles the challenge flawlessly and with great catty style.

As Munkustrap, the rich voice and authoritative Philip Cerza helps get us started in The Naming of Cats that allows us to get a good glimpse at the impressive ensemble. Tia Konsur is the cat named Jennyanydots who cavorts around the stage with a very cute and playful prancing dance in Old Gumbie Cat. As Rum Tum Tugger, Julian Crider sends out the catnip vibes to the female felines with a very entertaining performance that includes a little Michael Jackson action (nothing criminal, thankfully) and has him going out into the audience seeking even greater attention. Drew Lynch is Bustopher Jones, “the stoutest of cats,” who lazily meanders about with a huge martini glass and a couple of lovely and remarkably tall lady cats on each arm (so tall that one of them gives Jennyanydots a start). For pure fun, the nod probably goes to Mungojerrie and Rumpletazer, with two dynamite dance majors Jamie Edelman and Arielle Panrae strutting their stuff as a couple mischievous cat burglars.

Then comes the most revered cat, Old Deuteronomy, and the Las Vegas Academy brought in a professional actor for this role – Neil Taffe. His sonorous voice and the reactions by the other cats beautifully capture the awe that Old Deuteronomy inspires among his fellow felines. With his presence comes the Jellicle Ball when one cat will be chosen for a new life – the ball featuring a remarkable, festive dance scene that eventually gives way to the entrance of the limping, elderly Grizabella. Choir major Lynda DeFuria delivering a beautiful rendition of the show’s poignant signature song Memory as she pines for yesteryear while gazing up above at youthful Vegas showgirls.

The second act features many entertaining scenes including Elijah O’Connell as the wistful old theatre cat Gus reminiscing about his days on the stage when he used to receive several catcalls, backed up by three very nice voices in Caitlyn Cerza, Katie Bertini, and Sylvia Brasuell. The bad-boy cat Macavity (Kip Canyon) is introduced with some terrific jazzy nightclub vocals by Rebecca Stewart and joined by some great solos by Julia DiVergilio and Shararyah Clark. Julian Crider whimsically introduces celebrated Vegas nightclub magician Mr. Mistoffelees played with nightclub-magician charisma by Lance Barker. As Jemima, Rachel Richards wows with her sterling vocals as she sings some of the bars from Memory before the Journey to the Heavyside Layer begins for one lucky cat, who rides up to the sky in an old Vegas sign of a woman swinging on a clock pendulum. And for the Vegas after-party? Why not have the cat version of The Blue Man Group bang on the drums!

The show pays attention to every detail of production – movement, acting, singing, fantastic lighting effects, a great set that expertly plays up the Vegas theme, magnificent costumes and makeup, and a dead-on student orchestra. They’ve created  a dazzling feast for eyes and ears with a talent-rich cast and crew who all combine to make a show that will create many good memories.

Performs February 7 - 23, 2008.

Rob Hopper
National Youth Theatre

~ Cast ~
Grizabella: Lynda DeFuria
Old Deuteronomy: Neil Taffe
Munkustrap: Philip Cerza
Jennyanydots: Tia Konsur
Bustopher Jones: Drew Lynch
Rum Tum Tugger: Julian Crider
Mungojerrie: Jamie Edelman
Rumpleteazer: Arielle Panrae
Jellylorum: Caitlyn Cerza
Jemima: Rachel Richards
Skimbleshanks: Cody Canyon
Gus: Elijah O'Connell
Admetus: Katie Bertini
Bombalurina: Sylvia Brasuell
Tantomile: Shararyah Clark
Victoria: Julia DiVergilio
Electra: Marissa Lessman
Demeter: Anna Morris
Pouncival: Rebecca Stewart
Macavity: Kip Canyon
Mr. Mistoffelees: Lance Barker

~ The Ensemble ~
Coricopat: Gianni Becker
Tumblebrutus: Kolin Bernard
Beebop: Paige Billiott
Snazzabella: Allie Cannady
Pantoufle: Michelle Carey
Sillabub: Vicki Colombo
Peezer: Hailey Fenton
Wakkybokit: Aaron Fentress
Patchet: Alexis Fitting
Trinity: Symone Gates
Palooka: Ricky Heidema
Platoa: Alexandria Hill
Exotica: Francesca Kintz
Cassandra: Hailey Leeming
Carbucketty: Jordan Luna
Bonsai: Taylor Manney
Ginger: Primrose Martin
Bill Bailey: Matt Ortile
Shugarlik: Jessica Pace
Greezeter: Matt Phillips
Augustuvio: Phillipp Rosendahl
Ghengis: CJ Salvani
Sliderick: Kevin Sanchez
Gilbert: Jordan Sasse
Glaconda: Adrianna Simon
Harmonius: Terry Simpson
Pee Wee: Brandon Sims
Leelanks: Chloe Slater
Negatory: Sydney Southers
Xanthus: Jesse Teta
Etcetera: Madison Wallace
Tabacutty: Kerry Warren
Dweezil: Ryan Wesen
Layla: Callie Williams
Obelix: Willetta Wright
Quaxo: Jeff Zicker
Venezia: Rebecca Zuckerman

Director: Glenn Edwards
Tammy Pessagno
Vocal Director: Megan Habiger
Set Designer: Thom Bublauskas
Lighting Designer: John R. Morris
Costume Designer: Terry McGonigle
Audio Supervisor: Eric McFall
Conductor: Logan Biles
Wig Designer: Jason Bennett


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