TBTS’S lively ‘CATS’ lives on

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We first saw Andrew Lloyd Webber’s Award Winning “CATS” in London in the ’80s and have since seen numerous productions in Boston and Rhode Island. The lively show has more lives than just about any musical, spending 18 years on Broadway and still entertaining audiences around the world.

“CATS” is a big challenge for the tiny Theatre-by-the-Sea stage, challenging the 22 dancers to tighten their choreography and giving director/choreographer Richard Stafford a major challenge, providing the audience with a different perspective on the lavish dance numbers. In most cases, they succeed in moving as a cohesive unit, while periodically spotlighting individual singer/dancers. Standing out is Craig Donnelly as Mistoffellees, the magical cat who moves around the stage like he owns it.

Much of the credit in this production goes to the people behind the scenes, especially Tony Award-winning Leon Rothenberg, who redesigned the sound system at the old barn theatre, which allows us to hear and understand the clever lyrics.

Lighting designer Bailey Costa played an enormous role in the production, which is filled with clever lighting that covers the entire theatre. And Stephanie Harrop’s makeup adds to the enjoyment.

The show has lots of energy, with the cast reaching far out into the audience and climbing into the stage rafters. Keep your feet out of the aisles or you may trip up Old Deuteronomy as he is led to the stage.

Veteran actor Peter S. Adams makes a classic old muse, and he has the pipes to hold your attention, especially in the closing scene.

Many of the actors had played their roles before as members of the National Tour, bringing a true sense of credibility to their individual cats.

The five-piece band gets a workout in this musical that is all music, with no spoken dialogue.

“CATS” is at Theatre-by-the-Sea in Matunuck through July 13. If you have never seen the musical, this is a great opportunity to see a first-rate production. If you have seen it, see it again and enjoy the “memory.”

Call 782-8587 for tickets, which range from $39 to $59.

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