When Andrew Lloyd Webber’s new musical opened at the Winter Garden Theatre in 1982, Broadway theatre-goers had never seen a show like it. A cast of characters taken from children’s stories written by the legendary British author, T. S. Eliot, a junkyard for a set, and the singers and dancers in costumes based on their rehearsal attire-adorned with slashes of paint and lined with strange patches of feather and fur; all drawn together with an eclectic score splashed with jazz stylings, rock and pop hits, hymnlike expressions, and pieces of spoken word set to instrumentation. Combining these strange elements gave that strangest of breeds a voice and resulted in the phenomenon that ran for 6,138 performances.
Cats, after so many tours, performances in New York in London, and productions all over the world, returns to the Wagon Wheel Theatre in Warsaw where audiences will get a chance to delight in all its feline frenzy after a seven year absence.
The Broadway production won seven Tony Awards and was nominated for four others. In particular, the awards for Best Direction, Best Costume Design and Best Lighting Design align themselves perfectly with the talents of the Wagon Wheel’s prooduction team.
Scott Michaels, who choreographed the show for the 2004 production at the Wheel, gets another shot at it as Director/Choreographer. His work on a production at Arrowhead High School in Hartland, WI won him USA Today’s award for Best High School Musical in the country for 2008. Although this is his third chance to stage the show, Michaels assures that there will be plenty of changes from prior productions.
Stephen Hollenbeck has created all-original costume designs for each cat character and each will be handpainted by the Wagon Wheel staff. Long-time Wagon Wheel onstage favorite, Jenn Dow, who now does freelance wig design and construction, has also built each headpiece from scratch, giving the show a fresh and inventive look that you won’t find anywhere else.
The production will also feature award-winning lighting designer Marcus Doshi. A native of Indiana, Marcus’ work has taken him to some of the premiere stages all over the world, including Edinburgh, London, Amsterdam, Castres, Venice, Vienna, Mumbai and Delhi. His work garnered him a recent Drama Desk Award nomination for Best Lighting Design for a production of Hamlet in 2009. He will bring his world-renowned expertise to this production at the Wagon Wheel.
Combine all those fantastic production elements with the finest emerging professional talent from around the country and you have a season kick-off that is sure to please young and old alike. And Cats is family-friendly. Not only will you enjoy the lavish show onstage, your kids will get to dress up like a cat and have their picture taken in front of a life-sized show poster, there will be cats-style face painting and many more surprises.