The Drama Club presented CATS, the musical composed by Andrew Lloyd Webber and based on Old Possum's Book of Practical Cats by T.S. Eliot, for three well-attended performances which ran from Thursday, March 22 through Saturday, March 24. The young cast and crew, led by producer and director Ken Dobbins, put on a fabulous show of frolicking feline fun, imbued with heartfelt emotion.
The legendary CATS is the second longest-running musical in Broadway history. The deceptively simple show tells the "tail" of a tribe of mysterious, playful and diverse cats called the Jellicles, and the magical night they make what is known as "the Jellicle choice", and decide which cat will ascend to the Heavyside Layer to be reborn to a new life (there is no mention of whether a cat gets to do this nine times).
The Jellicle Ball offers audience members a sneak peek inside the enigmatic nocturnal life of these active creatures who remain docile during the daytime. The cool cats congregate in a junkyard setting that was masterfully created by Dan R. Lowis, who did the scene and lighting design.
A large ensemble cast was led by Alyssa Masseria (Munkustrap), Danielle Nigro (Demeter), Veronica Kelly (Bombalurina), Alexis Tedesco (Jellylorum), Sarah Clive (Grizabella), James Collins (Rum Tum Tugger), Rob Downes (Old Deuteronomy), Logan Farrell (Asparagus), Ashley Iadanza (Jemina), Rachel Wadler (Jennyanydots), Ryan Fazziola (Skimbleshanks), Cassie Balado (Cassandra), Lisa Cento (Rumpleteaser), Maria Cento (Mungojerrie), Katie Gerardi (Quaxo), Jake DeRobertis (Mr. Mistoffelees), Jaclyn Kieffner (Victoria,), Collin Gallagher (Macavity), Amber Celone (Ghengisa) and Ashley Ehman (Gilberta).
The production was an enjoyable romp for both children and adults alike. The transformation of the students into these slithering, preening, nimble and agile animals was a sight to behold. The elaborate costuming and makeup, along with complex choreography by Jean Sorbera, complete with handstands, flips, and other gravity-defying acrobatics made the scant storyline and "pawcity" of plot secondary to the spectacle.
Some standout moments included "Gus: The Theatre Cat", Tedesco's wonderfully crisp, clear soprano and graceful movements juxtaposed with Farrell's rich vocals and quivering paws made for a delightful duet.
Variety and surprises, such as cloaked cast members entering from the back of the theater and walking up the aisle to the stage, kept the audience on the edge of their seats. Songs alternated between haunting melodies — grappling with themes of lost youthful glory and bittersweet nostalgia — and jubilant, swaggering numbers such as "Skimbleshanks: The Railway Cat."
The rat, tat, tat of "Macavity: The Mystery Cat", about the elusive and slippery "cat burglar" included fabulous feline footwork from Gallagher and the cast. Sultry vocals courtesy of Nigro and Kelly made this jazzy selection a standout.
While, the CATchy "Magical Mr. Mistoffelees" was sure to get stuck in the heads' of listeners for days to come, the heart of the show is, of course, it's most iconic selection, "Memory", where Grizabella (Clive) proclaims that "a new day has come", ending the show with a hopefully beginning, and leaving audience members exiting amid exclamations such as, "wasn't that great", which could be heard echoing throughout the auditorium.
"It was continuously enjoyable, and the characters were just awesome," said Patchogue resident Kyle Viola, 19, who said he left feeling "ecstatic."
Olympia Daube from Holtsville said, "It was absolutely phenomenal. I would definitely come back tomorrow."
After the performance, Tedesco was confident that the rehearsals which took place five days a week for three months definitely paid off in the end.
She said, "I think we did a purr-fect job."