This post is brought to you in partnership with Broadway in Portland. I received complimentary tickets to facilitate my review. Opinions are my own.
Attending a live performance of the award-winning musical Cats, felt like the quintessential Broadway experience. So, when the opportunity to catch the opening night performance of Cats during its run at the Keller Auditorium in Portland, Oregon came, I knew I had to jump at the chance. (I mean, it IS one of the absolute BIGGEST theatrical hits in history, composed by an absolute genius (Andrew Lloyd Webber), and is currently the 4th longest-running show in Broadway history! I HAD to see it!)
I’ll admit, despite being a long-time Broadway fan and avid theater-goer – I was a total Cats newbie. My sum total of pre-existing knowledge about Cats was the, let’s be generous and say “less than favorable” review(s) the movie received, the fact that it featured humans dressed up as cats, and maybe featured the song, “Memories.” I had literally no idea what to expect, but had a feeling it was something you had to see and experience in person.
So, with a mix of both skepticism and intrigue, my daughter and I set off for the theater, simply expecting to make a fun memory together. And anyone looking for a fun Broadway experience, will most definitely find it in the audience of Cats. This production has it ALL. (Seriously, if you love all the things that make a Broadway production fun, you’ll love Cats!) And as I marveled at the way the scenes moved from tap dancing to contemporary dancing to a choral number to a ballad – each beautiful, joy-filled, and intrinsic to the story – I was moved. Because yes, this is a story about cats. We expected that. What I didn’t expect was the connections I was able to draw to humanity.
Cats tells the story of a group of cats who gather together one magical night for the annual Jellicle Ball to decide which cat should be reborn. We meet a variety of cats, each with a unique personality and role within the community. And what struck me as special, is the way each cat was given their moment to shine – simply for being who they are. For me, the Jellicle Ball was a celebration of both each cat’s uniqueness AND their bond as a group.
We each have a part to play and true community is born when we accept the other role players within our group.
SW Washington local (woohoo for talent from my home state!) Tayler Harris, absolutely mesmerized as Grizabella! Her ability to portray such a depth of vulnerability was incredible. Tayler conveyed our deep longing for acceptance, belonging, and forgiveness in a powerful and hauntingly beautiful way. (Coming simply to hear Tayler sing “Memory” is worth the cost of the ticket!) I was moved to tears. I have attended nearly every production that has come through Portland in the last 7 years, and Tayler Harris’s performance is most definitely in my Top 5 all-time favorites.
Other cast standouts for me included Allison Lian as Rumpleteazer, whose pure joy for her craft never left her face. Even in the small moments, you knew she was doing what she loved. John Anker Bow (who was also Bustopher Jones, the large cat that gets a laugh) delighted me as (Aspara)Gus the theater cat. Perhaps it’s because I have a Gus cat of my own, but I think what moved me was his true-to-life portrayal of someone recalling their best days – slightly sad and wistful that those days are gone, but joyful and grateful they happened. (And hopeful more were ahead!) It was a beautiful performance. Crowd-favorites were Travis Anderson as Rum Tum Tugger and Paul Giarratano as Mistoffelees. These are delightful roles full of fun and playfulness – and this world needs more actors with the ability to pulls us out of our own heads and stress-filled lives and bring us along and into the fun. These actors did just that.
Whether you want to escape and celebrate an evening of Broadway magic, delighting in gorgeous dance, an incredibly talented ensemble that can SING, incredible lighting and effects, and a talented orchestra OR if you’re like me and can’t help but want to find the deeper meaning and contemplate community, acceptance, and our individualism – I invite you to come to Cats.
Cats will be in Portland through June 26th. At time of posting, tickets are still available! Please click HERE to purchase your tickets for this can’t-miss theatrical experience! Remaining showtimes are as follows:
Wednesday, June 22nd: 7:30 PM
Thursday, June 23rd: 7:30 PM
Friday, June 24th: 7:30 PM
Saturday, June 25th: 2:00 PM and 7:30 PM
Sunday, June 26th: 1:00 PM and 6:30 PM
If you are not able to make it to Cats this time around, I encourage you to see it the next time it comes to Portland. Tickets are also on sale now for Hadestown – headed to the Keller Auditorium July 19-24.
For information and to grab your tickets → https://portland.broadway.com/shows/hadestown/
Broadway in Portland has released their 2022/2023 season! Visit https://portland.broadway.com/ to learn more.
Want to learn more about Cats? For more information and a complete tour route, please visit CatsTheMusical.com.