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Based on the works of T.S. EliotCATS the musical

Music by Andrew Lloyd Weber

Direction and choreography for tour by Richard Stafford (based on original direction by Trevor Nunn and original choreography by Gillian Lynne)

At Cadillac Palace Theatre, Chicago

These cats have plenty of lives—and life.

Those oh-so-idiosyncratic kitties make a splendid return to the Chicago stage in what is being billed as a faithful recreation of the original West End production. A panoply of song, dance and sheer spectacle, CATS is family-friendly fun overflowing with so much variety it has to burst off the stage and into the audience. Based on T.S. Eliot’s 1939 children’s book of light verse, Old Possum’s Book of Practical Cats, it tells a simple tale of the Jellicle cat tribe uniting on a single night to see which of them will be permitted the honor of being born again.

CATS at the Cadillac Palace Theatre

CATS pulls back the veil on that most aloof of animals to reveal a rich inner life we all suspected was there; one of complex naming, strange abilities and tribal loyalty. Presided over by Old Deuteronomy (Nathan Morgan) under a full moon in an unknown junkyard, each cat gets to make their case for the Heaviside Layer where cats receive a second chance by singing the song of their life and personality (purr-sonality?). Each one is a self-contained song and dance number that samples a vast range of styles from pop rock to opera, music hall to jazz—even a little cabaret. Of course, it’s that haunting and enigmatic composition “Memory” that steals the show. As sung by Melissa Grohowski, the desolate former glamour cat Grizabella brings chills and a tear with her song of lost glory and a wish for a new life. Chaz Wolcott as the magical Mr. Mistoffelees earns equal praise for his balletic movements that spin him about the stage like a child’s toy as he enchants with his tricks and turns.

Grizabella of CATS at the Cadillac Palace TheatreThe plot is secondary to the sheer sensory delight of a massive ensemble introducing this tribe, embodying the grace and sensual movements of felines resplendent in the fantastical glam-rock costumes based on the original 1981 production. This production attempts to be as true to that original production as possible, with director and choreographer Richard Stafford reviving the work of director Trevor Nunn and the movements of Gillian Lynne. Having not been there, I can’t say if this is or isn’t a true replica of that debut, but when you’re having this much fun it’s hard to care either way. T.S. Eliot’s poetry is wonderfully imaginative, homely in structure and a perfect counterpoint to Weber’s deliriously inventive compositions. It’s complex in its simplicity, and I couldn’t help but think of that portmanteau “simplexity” currently infusing such creative powerhouses as Pixar.

CATS at the Cadillac Palace Theatre

Thirty-one years after its debut, the award-winning CATS is one of the longest running musical of all time (eclipsed by Andrew Lloyd Weber’s other work, Phantom of the Opera). Still fresh and frisky, it’s an indispensable stop on the world-tour of theatre. Visiting Chicago for a short five day run, don’t dawdle if you want a chance to see a true piece of panache and pageantry. You may never look at a cat the same way again.

Highly Recommended.

Review by Clint May

Date Reviewed: May 1, 2012

For more info checkout the CATS page on

At Cadillac Palace Theatre, 151 W. Randolph, Chicago, IL; call 800.775.2000 or visit; tickets $25-75 with discounted student and group rates available; performances Wednesday through Friday 7:30pm, Saturday at 2pm & 8pm, and Sunday 2pm and 7:30pm; running time 2 hours 30 minutes 1 intermission; through May 6.

2 thoughts on “CATS

  • I can not believe that I read this kind of review here. This production was by far the worst I have ever seen in Chicago, and for sure the worst out of the series of Broadway in Chicago. I am not talking about the show itself, but the disrespectful production that includes an inflatable set (yes, inflatable), no orchestra, and lighting that could easily be from any high school production, yet with tickets that cost almost 140 dollars.

    I am ashamed to have seen this amateur production, and embarrassed to read such a review from this website. I don´t know exactly the parameters this reviewer had to write such thing. Quite sad.

  • Mark Thompson

    To the audience member who wrote above me, it is tradition in CATS history for the orchestra to be behind the scenes, so as to not throw off the “junkyard” feel of the set. This tour does have an orchestra – 8 pieces in Chicago. The lighting is one brilliant thing about this particular touring production, so I have no idea what you are talking about there. The set IS partially inflatable, for easy travel. But how about instead of saying that’s a bad thing, recognize the artistic innovation that came with making inflatable pieces of junk and revel in how the company did what I consider to be impressive given their circumstances.

    I think this review was spot on. I saw the show in Chicago and in Joliet (much smaller venue) and the cast is so inspiring. I was such a fan of it, I bought those $140 tickets you mentioned in Chicago.

    Thanks to the reviewer for getting this one right!

    In both performances, I was moved by Melissa Grohowski’s “Memory” – she really just nails it. The cast was strong on the whole .

    Skimbleshanks (Louie Napoleon) was magnificent in his song & dance number, hitting every single pose with energy and every note with crisp diction and comedic timing. Jennyanydots (Erica Leigh Hansen) was as cute as a button as the captain of the tap troupe, and Mistoffelees (Chaz Wolcott) broke through as the star of the show as he amazed the audiences with his turns and leaps. He turns so many times that it’s no wonder they call him “magical”.

    The cast sparkled in “The Jellicle Ball” – aside from a disappointing Victoria (Jordan Dunlap) whose legs don’t go as high as you want them to. Another questionable casting choice was Munkustrap (Daniel J. Self), who struggled to find the correct pitches and the character of the leader of the Jellicles. Gus, The Theatre Cat (Christopher E. Sidoli) did not stand out as the character should, and Macavity (Clinton James Sherwood) could have had a few more ballet classes before embarking on this tour. Not to worry, Rum Tum Tugger (Chris Stevens) overcompensates for where some of his cast faulters by gyrating his hips until the audience is forced to applaud, however they may not have for his unimpressive voice and awkward dance moves that remind one of a gogo dancer at a gay bar.

    Aside from those missteps, this litter of “CATS” provides a wonderful night at the theatre, for both child and adult. And “CATS” will live on now and forever.

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