This was my first experience with this national tour. I had previously seen the Musical Theatre West production in Long Beach. So that is my only comparison.
I liked the Christmas lights hanging from the balconies. That was a very ingenious way of extending the set into the audience. It worked well and added a lot of atmosphere. From where I was sitting, I could barely tell that the set was inflatable. I know people have complained about it, but I feel it worked well.
Now the strobe lights I was not crazy about. I had to look away from the stage a couple of times because they became eye sores. I'm not entirely sure what purpose they served, either. Like when Macavity turns out the lights, I was expecting sparks like the MTW production, but they just used more strobe lights. It looked a bit odd. But other than that, the lighting was brilliant. I adored the lighting during The Naming of Cats. Very eery!Actors/Actresses:
Some stood out more than others, I'll admit.
The "eh": Chris Stevens, who played Rum Tum Tugger, certainly played the part well, but I didn't feel he added a whole lot to the role. There was a little lack of enthusiasm, I felt. But the audience seemed to enjoy him, and that's what mattered. This was also the case with the actresses who played Rumpleteazer and Bombalurina. While they certainly played the part, there seemed to be a little less enthusiasic than the others. But none were bad (FAR from it).
The very good: Nathan Morgan
as Old D. was PHENOMENAL. He had a very spiritual voice. Louie Napoleon
made an incredibly enthusiastic Skimbleshanks. He actually made me like the character and song more (never was a huge fan of Skimble). He got a huge applause afterwards. Chaz Wolcott
was brilliant, of course. Wasn't expecting any less from him. He had a huge grin on his face during "The Addressing of Cats". It was cute. Candance Lyn Luther
was a wonderful Cassandra- she really stood out in the ensemble (in a good way, of course). Both Jellylorum and Jemima has absolutely gorgeous voices. Superb. Chris Sidoli
as Aspargus gave a spot-on performance. Finally, Melissa Grohowski
made a haunting Grizabella. He voice was very operatic, which I loved very much. Zero complaints.
Oh, and I can't forget Coricopat and Tantomile! I liked seeing them. Of course, being my first experience with this tour, I didn't know what it was like NOT to have them around. Haha. They were very in sync, like they should have been, and stood out at times. I liked the costumes, too (a tad different from the video version- I actually couldn't find them at first, because I was looking for the different wigs!)Music/Sound:
This is where I have some slight criticism. We all know that this tour travels with a small, five-piece orchestra. I was well aware of that coming in. I had even heard some samples on Youtube of certain songs. Those videos sounded just fine. But when I heard the overture, I was very underwhelmed. It sounded very canned (obviously because of the synthesizers). Also, I felt that they needed to turn up the volume on the sound system in that theater, because I could barely hear some of the songs ("The Naming of Cats", for example). It was strange because some of the musical numbers sounded louder than others (but this probably had to do with the nature of the songs themselves). The orchestration for "Mr. Mistofelees", "Memory", and "The Addressing of Cats" were well-executed for a small band, so props to them. However, I felt that "Macavity" and "The Old Gumbie Cat" were lacking that jazz band feel, which was a bummer. But it didn't sound that bad. Others, like "Old Deutoronomy" and "The Moments of Happiness" didn't work at all. They're beautiful songs in their own rights, and I felt that a small orchestra just doesn't do them any justice. Parts of "The Jellicle Ball" were better than others. Again, they needed to turn up the sound system because the quieter parts were too quiet. So in terms of effects and music, I think MTW was more successful.Other notes:
Being opening night, there were a few miscues. They completely missed the little sting note at the end of Mungojerrie and Rumpleteazer, which was kind of awkward (but I don't think anyone noticed). Also, during Rum Tum Tugger's scene, when Mistofelees says "the Rum Tum Tugger is a terrible bore", he still had his beetle suit on. Oops. You could also hear someone's microphone rubbing against the wig a few times. Finally, as I said, the audio seemed way off.
I loved how at the end Bombalurina finally got her revenge on Tugger, by knocking him down. I laughed (nobody else seemed to catch on to the joke). Also, when Griz came out for the first time, I swear that Tumblebrutus ninja kicked her in the stomach. Lol.
I quite enjoyed the show, despite the complaints here and there. I will be returning for Sunday's matinee performance, and hope that they'll fix the little technical problems. I'm sure they will. I will update the review after that performance.
Matinee Performance: Actors/Actresses:
Melissa really brought the house down today. Just.......wow. Absolutely thrilling. Everyone else pretty much performed the same way they did previously (nobody changed my mind). But I've come to the conclusion that I really am not a fan of the woman who played Rumpleteazer (Hilary Porter
). Both of her performances were unimpressive. Even her laugh was pretty weak. But oh well. Music/Sound: They fixed the sound system!
Thank heavens for that, because it sounded way better. The orchestra sound was much richer. I really do wonder if they picked up more musicians for the weekend performances (I've heard of them doing that for big cities). Though it could have had to do with our better seats (we got orchestra seats.) Other notes:
The audience was a lot more "in" to the show than the audience on Tuesday's show. It made the experience more enjoyable. Although there was a little kid behind me who would not shut up. He and his mom didn't come back after intermission. And one lady at the end kept whining about how it was "too long". Seriously, I don't understand people sometimes. Why the hell didn't you check how long it was before you bought the tickets? It's the same with people who say they were disappointed by the "plot". First of all, what kind of elaborate plot were you expecting from a show about cats
? Secondly, again: WHY DIDN'T YOU CHECK BEFORE YOU BOUGHT THE TICKETS?? Then you could decide if it sounds appealing to you and you don't have to waste $60 per ticket! Ugh, it just drives me crazy! /rant
Oh, and I didn't notice that Alonzo was brown.
Lol. And I thought this Coricopat and Tantomile were better. I noticed they were the first to react whenever Macavity was near. But I didn't get their names. So sorry about that. I think the board was posted upstairs. We were running kind of late, so I didn't take the time to look for it.