CATS is one of the longest-running shows in Broadway history, where it ran for 18 years. The musical includes plenty of dance numbers that are sure to thrill audiences, including “The Jellicle Ball” scene in the first act.
“The Jellicle Ball sequence is a full sustained 10 minutes of all-out dancing,” said Melissa Verzino, CATS choreographer and owner of the Tuscaloosa Dance Centre. “It’s known as one of – if not the most – physically demanding dance sequences in musical theatre, requiring incredible strength, skill, and endurance.”
Joey Lay, who has worked on more than 100 theatre productions both on and off stage for over 20 years, is the director and costumer of CATS. He also plays Old Deuteronomy. He says he’s dreamed of doing this show for decades.
“This is my third time working on a CATS production, and I’m so thrilled to finally get to actually be in the performance – even if it means I have to wear a unitard,” he joked.
Jokes aside, Lay is proud to be part of this cast of talented dancers and singers. The magnificent musical score of CATS, composed by the legendary Andrew Lloyd Webber, includes the poignant hit song “Memory,” which has been recorded by more than 150 artists from Barbra Streisand and Johnny Mathis to Liberace and Barry Manilow. Singing “Memory” on the Bama stage will be Beth Stomps Feller, who plays Grizabella, the former Glamour Cat who has lost her sparkle and now only wants to be accepted.
Feller, a 2000 graduate of the University of Alabama with BA in theatre and a minor in vocal performance, has performed with numerous theatre organizations in the Southeast, including Theatre Tuscaloosa, where she played Eliza in My Fair Lady, the group’s first production 24 years ago, as well as more recent roles in Company, Regrets Only, and Nuncrackers.
“My favorite part of rehearsing for CATS is watching a cast with diverse backgrounds come together as artists and performers,” Feller said. “Many of the dancers have never been in a full theatrical production with a live orchestra, and many of the actors/singers have never had to dance with the kind of intensity and skill this show requires. These young performers are growing as artists themselves, while teaching and inspiring each other.”
One of those young performers is Feller’s daughter, Kate.
“Kate and I share a beautiful moment just before I sing ‘Memory,’ where I reach for the kitten who happens to be my daughter in real life.”
Five performances of CATS will run Sept. 6-9 at the Bama Theatre: Friday through Monday evenings at 7:30 p.m., and a Sunday matinee at 2:00 p.m.
Reserved seat tickets are $22 for adults and $20 for seniors and students. Tickets are available at TheACTonline.com or (205) 462-7947. The box office will be open one hour prior to each show time as well.