Past Reviews

Regional Reviews: Washington, D.C.

National Tour
Review by Susan Berlin | Season Schedule (updated)

Also see Susan's reviews of Jitney, Fairview and What the Constitution Means to Me

Keri René Fuller
Photo by Matthew Murphy
The advertising slogan for the original 1982 production of Cats was "Now and forever." Almost two decades have passed since that production closed, after 7,485 performances, but the now-classic Andrew Lloyd Webber musical returns in a polished touring production now at the Kennedy Center Opera House in Washington.

The tour is based on the 2016 Broadway revival, restaged by original director Trevor Nunn and choreographed by Hamilton's Andy Blankenbuehler working from the original choreography by Gillian Lynne. The scenery and costumes are derived from John Napier's originals, but the cat bodysuits seem a bit more streamlined now (the fur ruffs at the neck appear less obvious).

The setting is still the stylized dead-end alley where the Jellicle Cats gather for their annual ball and tell their stories. The stage is lit by washes of color and strings of ever-changing colored LED lights, which extend into the auditorium and above the heads of the audience.

Lloyd Webber took the majority of his lyrics from T.S. Eliot's book of poems, "Old Possum's Book of Practical Cats." The one major structural change in the revival script is the elimination of "Growltiger's Last Stand," due to Eliot's use of ethnic slurs; Asparagus (Timothy Gulan), or Gus the Theatre Cat, now appears instead as the Great Rumpus Cat in "The Awefull Battle of the Pekes and the Pollicles," which features cats costumed as dogs.

The performers more than live up to expectations, uniformly accomplished with feline grace and a variety of specialty skills. As Grizabella, the once beautiful, now shabby gray cat who sings "Memory," Keri René Fuller captures the audience's sympathy with her sense of desperate hope. Caitlin Bond, as the white cat Victoria, does breathtaking splits and leg lifts in the most balletic choreography; McGee Maddox swaggers as the bad-boy rocker Rum Tum Tugger; Emily Jeanne Phillips turns prim Jennyanydots into a tap-dancing dynamo; Gulan is moving as elderly Asparagus and Falstaffian as Bustopher Jones; and, as Mr. Mistoffelees, Tony d'Alelio glitters as much as his spangled costume.

Kennedy Center
September 17th - October 6th, 2019
Music by Andrew Lloyd Webber
Based on "Old Possum's Book of Practical Cats" by T.S. Eliot
Alonzo: Phillip Deceus
Bill Bailey/Rum Tum Tugger: McGee Maddox
Bombalurina: Emma Hearn
Cassandra: Mariah Reives
Coricopat: Maurice Dawkins
Demeter: Alexa Racioppi
Grizabella: Keri René Fuller
Jellylorum: Kaitlyn Davidson
Jennyanydots: Emily Jeanne Phillips
Mistoffelees: PJ DiGaetano
Mungojerrie: Tony d'Alelio
Munkustrap: Dan Hoy
Peter/Bustopher Jones/Asparagus: Timothy Gulan
Plato/Macavity: Tyler John Logan
Pouncival: Brett Michael Lockley
Rumpleteazer: Rose Iannaccone
Sillabub: Ahren Victory
Skimbleshanks: Ethan Saviet
Tantomile: Laura Katherine Kaufman
Tumblebrutus: Devin Neilson
Victor/Old Deuteronomy: Brandon Michael Nase
Victoria: Caitlin Bond
The Cats Chorus: Maria Failla, Adam Richardson, Zachary Tallman, Tricia Tanguy
Swings: Zachary S. Berger, Joshua Michael Burrage, Nick Burrage, Erin Chupinsky, Justin W. Geiss, Marina Lazzaretto, Charlotte O'Dowd
Directed by Trevor Nunn
Choreography by Andy Blankenbuehler, based on the original choreography by Gillian Lynne
Opera House, John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts
2700 F St. NW, Washington, DC
Ticket Information: (800) 444-1324 or (202) 467-4600 or