Cats by Theo Ubique Cabaret Theatre

Music by Andrew Lloyd Webbercats at theo ubique cabaret theatre

Based on poetry of T. S. Eliot’s

Old Possum’s Book of Practical Cats

Directed and choreographed by Brenda Didier

Music direction by Ethan Deppe

Produced by Theo Ubique Caabaret Theatre

in association with Michael James

At No Exit Cafe, Chicago

Wonderful, in-your-face Cats is a theatrical miracle!

I’ll never question if the folks at Theo Ubique Cabaret Theatre can stage a particular show on their 8′ x 20′ stage at the No Exit Cafe! It was impossible to make Cats work on that small stage. Right? WRONG – director and choreographer Brenda Didier used her immense talent and creativity to make her production of Cats a wonderful intimate affair that sings exquisitely and dances zestfully. Her cast of 13 talents both sang and dances Webber’s musical with an exuberance and truthfulness that sure made me think they were indeed cats!

Didier’s Cats is a theatrical masterpiece that begs to be seen and enjoyed more than once. You’ll never get closer to a major dance musical than this one. These Cats win our hearts and thrill us with their quirkiness and dance acumen.

cats at theo ubique cabaret theatre

Music director Ethan Deppe’s 5 person orchestra deftly played Webber’s intricate score so accurately, I thought I was hearing the original CD. Deppe and conductor Gary Powell have found a way to play the score aggressively without being so loud as to drown out the singers.  This balance sound allowed for natural, not amplified music and singing. What a treat!

cats at theo ubique cabaret theatre

From the start, the orchestra and the exquisite Cats-like costumes (Matt Guthier) with wigs by Michael Buoninconto created the proper atmosphere for the Cats to roam. Once we learn about “The Naming of Cats,” we meet the old Gumbie cat and all of her friends all of whom aspire to be the cat selected by Old Deuteronomy to be reborn just before dawn.

cats at theo ubique cabaret theatre

Didier deftly has her cast depicting each cat’s personality and idiosyncrasies with body language, facial expressions and, of course, movement, singing and dancing. There all here: Munkustrap (Roy Brown), Mungojerrie/Skimbleshanks (Elliot Burton), Mr. Mistoffelees/Quaxo (Josh Huppert), Old Deuteronomy (Matt McNabb), Cassandra (Shannon Mulvey), Bustopher Jones/Gus/Growtiger (Brian-Alyn Newland), Jellylorum/Griddlebone (Hilary Patingre), Jennyanydots/Jemima (Rebecca Pink, Demeter/Rumpleteazer (Maggie Portman), The Rum Tum Tugger (Tommy Rivera-Vega), Bombalurina (Tiffany Cheris Taylor) and Grizzabella (Sydney Charles).

cats at theo ubique

My favorite Cats would have to be Bustopher Jones and Gus: The Theatre Cat both of whom were amazingly staged by Didier. The terrific Sydney Charles gives an emotionally haunting rendition of the fabulous 11 o’clock “Memory” just before her Journey to the Heaviside Layer.

cats at theo ubique

I can’t rave enough about Theo Ubique and Brenda Didier’s amazingly heartfelt,  richly emotionally and quite empathetic production of Cats. It boasts flawless music, deft dancing and it creates an evocative atmosphere that beckons us into the cats lair. We share the wizardry, wonders and warmth of Cats.  Get to No Exit Cafe in Rogers Park to experience an astonishing theatrical event!

Be sure to watch the two sample videos from this production below.

Highly Recommended

Tom Williams

Jeff Recommended

At No Exit Cafe, 6970 N. Glenwood, Chicago, IL, call 773-347-1109,, tickets $30 – $35, Thursdays at 7:30 Fridays & Saturdays at 8 pm Sundays at 2 & 7 pm (check for special Holiday performances),  running time is 2 hours, 20 minutes with intermission, through February 20, 2011

Here is Elaine Page singing “Memory” from the original London production of Cats – enjoy!

6 thoughts on “Cats by Theo Ubique Cabaret Theatre

  • Robert

    Of course you would like cats because your tastes are so antiquated and limited. You can’t go see any contemporary show around here without bitching within the first two sentences about how you “don’t like pop music”, “it’s not my cup of tea” or “I hate rock music and the way it’s sung” but cats, I repeat CATS you like? If cats is what you like then I can understand why you don’t like any of the good, more contemporary musical pieces done around here. Stick to cats you old stick in the mud.

  • Try going to see the terrific production of Cats at No Exit Cafe BEFORE you knock the show. I think I’m honest about what i don’t like and I say so–when pop/rock singing renders the lyrics unintelligible, I say so. Cats is a fine dance show

  • Robert

    I’m not knocking the show. Theo Ubique always does amazing work and Brenda Didier is incredible. I’m knocking you. I’ve seen and been in Cats and, no matter the production, Cats is still Cats. And that’s what you like: Cats. You don’t like rock shows so stop reviewing them. Stick to Lloyd Webber and Rogers and Hammerstein.

  • The reason I review rock shows is because I do get surprised by some–I liked Spring Awakening (the national tour) and I enjoyed several versions of Jesus Christ Superstar, especially Stacey Flaster’s production at the Theatre at The Center in Munster. I try to cover all Chicago theatre and I don’t discriminate – I go to each show looking for the best in that show. And if you don’t like my reviews- then don’t read them. Who needs your negative karma?

  • Marty Z

    Your review was right on the mark! I have seen it three times already with another ticket already bought. I had never seen Cats before and had not seen many musicals in my lifetime until just recently over the past few years. My friend who saw it many years ago, characterized her “Memory” of the play, as being “not one of her favorites”. This production has put in near the forefront. A few other family members Mom, two sisters and a niece all of whom except my niece had seen it way back when downtown. Their three recollections of Cats was boring to
    awful from my Mother. Everyone agreed this production was magnificent!! I have read most of the other reviews which are all giving this production excellent to magnfico ratings!!
    Congratulations to the entire cast and production team. Special Kudos to director/choreographer Brenda Didier and Maggie Portman actress (her funny facial expressions along with her shared (Tiffany Cheris Taylor) rendition of “McCavity” number was worth the price of admission by themselves!
    Thank You Theoublique and Fred Anzevino. I saw Evita with Maggie Portman two years ago.
    no wonder you guys have been Bombarded with Jeff awards.
    P. S. To those hesitant from a prior version of Cats. “GO see this one”
    I am sad when the play ends, I was totally entertained!

  • I often hear that folks love this production of Cats more than the tours that come to town.

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