Maddie Baldwin. Photo by Ken Jacques. Among musical theatergoers, the musical Cats evokes strong opinions.  Although it is an internationally acclaimed musical composed by the celebrated Lord Andrew Lloyd Webber, not all thespians take pleasure in this musical. Love it or hate it, San Diego Junior Theater did a commendable job of presenting this demanding piece to the audience.   Students showcased their triple-threat abilities emphasizing dance, as Cats is a predominately “dancer-demanding” show.  Based on T.S. Eliot’s “Old Possum’s Book of Practical Cats,” these “Jellicle” cats enlighten the audience on the different variety of cats that populate their neighborhood. The entire ensemble of cats and “kittens” spent most of their time on the stage, which was impressive considering the physically and vocally demanding elements of this show.

This high-energy production contains some extraordinarily entertaining dance numbers that were superiorly choreographed by Steve Anthony. The choreography was ideal for the physical illustration of the cats and thoroughly highlighted the actors’ abilities.  Musical numbers that particularly stood out was the opening “Jellicle Songs for Jellicle Cats”, “Jellicle Ball” and “Macavity the Mystery Cat.” These ferocious felines executed a mature score and possessed superior vocal abilities that reverberated throughout the entire house.

David Siciliano delivered a solid performance in his role as Munkustrap. He exuded much charm, personality and strength on stage with his exceptional vocals and great dramatic acting abilities. Jacob Sampson, as Rum Tum Tugger, gave a commanding performance with brilliant vocals and charisma, especially in his self-titled number “The Rum Tum Tugger.”

Another standout element of the show was the amazing orchestra complemented by the sound design (Robin Whitehouse), which highlighted the actors during the huge production numbers. The sets (Tony Cucuzzella) were a creative combination of Junior Theatre’s originality and the traditional Broadway set, which was innovatively used by all actors throughout the dance numbers and scenes. Cats were interspersed in all areas of the stage including standing on cars, fences, trashcans and couches.  The lighting, designed by Matthew Novotny, effectively highlighted the actors and created dramatic moods during significant songs and scenes. The costumes (Walter Allen) were tremendously inventive and believably transformed the actors from humans to felines.

Victoria the White Cat (Cleo Person) gave a highlight performance with her astounding dance skills (she was always a standout during the ensemble numbers.) Katlerli Crail gave an amazing performance as Bombalurina with her non-stop stage presence and strong vocal performance. She was consistently physically committed to the role. Maddie Baldwin, as Grizabella, gave one of the most memorable vocal performances of the night. When the long awaited 11th hour ballad “Memory” arrived, Baldwin presented a show-stopping and spine-tingling performance.  Arguably the most recognizable song in the show, Baldwin’s presentation of “Memory” was breathtaking.

Veteran theatergoers, and first-time attendee’s alike, are sure to be thoroughly entertained by the top-notch production that the students at San Diego Junior Theatre present with their premier of Cats.

Performed October 24 - November 9, 2008

Ashley Twomey
National Youth Theatre

Photos by Ken Jacques.

~ Cast ~
Photo by Ken Jacques

Mr. Mistoffelees- Robert V. Turner
Jennyanydots- Marianne Zumberge
Mungojerrie- Julian Montijo
Rumpleteazer- Olivia Puckett
Gus the Theater Cat- Ryan Luster
Old Deuteronomy- Alex Dunbar
Bombalruina- Katerli Crail
Munkustrap- David Siliciano
Demeter- Lauren Green
Grizabella- Maddie Baldwin
Macavity/Rumpus Cat- Jake Fineman
Rum Tum Tugger- Jacob Sampson
Jellylorum- Rachel Liuzzi
Skimbleshanks- Dylan Hoffinger
Bustopher Jones- Morgan Hollingsworth
Victoria the White Cat- Cleo Person
Jemima- Marina Inserra
Cat Ensemble- 
Julia Nadri-Loving
Spencer Williams
Meeshi Malachowski
Erica Malachowski
Alana Fineman
Alexandra Lee
Casey Jaquez
Fiona Beyerle
Alexandra Brady
Ruby Ross
Angela Ahren
Gregory Martin
Isabelle Pickering
Paige Solomon
Brooke Collins
Maddy Harvey
Julie Inserra

Pit Singers- 
Shir Gershon
Sophia Johnson
Amanda Blanco
Colette Huber
Dakota Berkley



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