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April 21, 2024

Where Every Family Matters

Review: The New Life of “Cats”

Andrew Lloyd Webber's dazzling feline frenzy is brighter and better than ever. Catch it at TPAC through Sunday, Nov. 24.

Broadway at TPAC presents:
Cats (Nov. 19 – 24: Ages 5+)
TPAC's Jackson Hall
505 Deaderick St., Nashville
615-782-4040 |
Remaining showtimes: Thu 7:30 p.m., Fri 8 p.m., Sat 2 & 8 p.m., Sun 1 & 6:30 p.m.
Tickets: $45 – $95

There's a purr-fect family show pouncing onstage this week at TPAC's Jackson Hall, and it's the ninth time that a touring production of Andrew Lloyd Webber's Cats has been here. This is the best production of them all. It's the seventh production of Cats that I've seen myself, and it supersedes all the rest.

Based on T.S. Eliot's Old Possum's Book of Practical Cats, the musical focuses on a particular night when the special tribe of Jellicle Cats gather for a late-night ball in a junkyard to present themselves and see who will be chosen to be reborn.

This retooled version of the musical adds snazzy updated choreography by Hamilton's Andy Blankenbuehler that's based on Gillian Lynne's original work.

Start to finish, Cats is an undeniable musical phenomenon. It's a high-energy show that dazzles the audience on all counts. It's a show that's pure fun with many memorable musical numbers and mind-blowing dance feats.

Emily Jeanne Phillips delivers one of the most incredible performances of Jennyanydots with her top-notch tap-dancing prowess.

And then there's McGee Maddox's wildly hammy and suave portrayal of Rum Tug Tugger. Maddox expertly grabs the audience and pulls everyone right into the center of attention his character craves.

The fantastically nimble feats of Justin W. Geiss as Mungojerrie and partner Rose Iannaccone as Rumplteazer are incredibly festive as they flip around the stage bringing perhaps the most realistic whimsy of actual feline persona to the stage. They're child-like playfulness is immense in their fun, slinky number.

Timothy Gulan serves up an appropriately haunting yet celebratory rendition of his character's past life as Gus the Theatre Cat.

While the entire show is full of amazing musical numbers and dancing feats, there are two big standouts. PJ DiGaetano is truly magical as Mister Mistoffelees. DiGaetano charms the audience like no other. His dynamic stage presence is a superb crowd-wowing experience, bringing the ultimate amount of energy to the stage. He presents the best mesmerizing spectacle in this magical production.

In any show filled with wonderful musical numbers, there's always one particular standout moment, and in this case in Cats, it comes courtesy of Keri Rene Fuller (Grizabella) in her delivery of the musical's signature song, "Memory." Fuller possesses a wonderfully pure sound. And when she finally hits those insanely high notes in Act II ("Touch me! It's so easy to leave me!"), it's an unforgettable goose-bump moment. In fact, Fuller's delivery feels like a lightning bolt coming off the stage, hitting the audience and blasting everyone into the rafters. It's not often you experience something so powerful, and it's electrifying when it happens.

Although the overall plot of Cats is one that's fairly thin, the show is fun, festive and highly energetic. This particular production boasts so many great performances, and it really is a tremendous outing for you and your kids.

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