Theo Ubique Cabaret Theatre presents
At No Exit Café, 6970 N. Glenwood
Composed by Andrew Lloyd Weber
Based on T.S. Eliot’s “Old Possum’s Book of Practical Cats”
Music directed by Ethan Deppe
Directed by Brenda Didier
Thursdays at 7:30pm (optional dinner at 6pm)
Fridays and Saturdays at 8pm (optional dinner at 6:30 pm)
Sundays at 2pm and 7pm (optional dinner at 12:30pm and 5:30pm)
Thru February 20th
Running Time: Two hours with a 20 minute intermission
Reviewed by Katy Walsh
Look at what the cats dragged in… Theo Ubique Cabaret Theatre, in association with Michael James, presents CATS, a musical by Andrew Lloyd Webber. Closing after 18 years, CATS is the second longest running show on Broadway. (The #1 spot is held by another ALW show, the still running “Phantom of the Opera” at 22+ years.) Based on the poetry of T.S. Eliot’s “Old Possum’s Book of Practical Cats,” the show is a cat lover’s fantasy. The felines don’t just paw yarn to entertain. They sing. They pirouette. They tap-dance. It’s ‘Aristocats’ meets ‘Thundercats’ in a non-cartoon dance-off. CATS is a pure-bred, fancy feast offering with a saucer of crème de la crème.
Theo Ubique stages the robust and energetic show in the intimate, sixty seat No Exit Café. Thirteen actors play twenty distinct cats. For director and choreographer, Brenda Didier it’s like herding kittens on the small stage. Luckily, she can have her pick from a multi-talented litter. Collectively, these cats move with an animated, synchronized blur of fur and color. The entire cast is a favorite pet waiting to happen. With extensive costume (Matt Guthier) and make-up (Izumi Inaba), the non-human illusion is scaredy cat real. By the end of the show, individual cats have put their best paw forward in Best of the Show moments. Matt McNabb (old Deuteronomy) anchors the show with wisdom and perfect pitch. Maggie Portman goes from playful (Rumpleteazer) to sex kitten (Demeter) with a Cheshire grin and boundless energy. Brian-Alwyn Newland and Hilary Patingre couple up magnificently as two pairs of cats. Their showstopper ‘The Siamese Italian Opera’ is like a strong cat-nip fix. (You want more but you have to drive home.) Tommy Rivera-Vega’s (The Rum Tum Tugger) smoldering attitude could ignite any cat in to heat. Singing the shiver-inducing ‘Memories,’ Sydney Charles (Grizzabella) builds from vulnerable kitty to unforgettable lioness.
Despite its punch-line Broadway run, I had never experienced CATS. It should be noted I’m also not a big fan of the allergy-inducing felines. Theo Ubique’s production of CATS is up close and purr-sonal. It’s a whisker away from brushing up against your leg. The spectacular dancing and singing is the cat’s meow while wearing the cat’s pajamas.
‘I remember the time I knew what happiness was.’ To ensure your happiness, I recommend arriving early. No Exit Café is a small cabaret venue with open seating. Certainly, not enough room to swing a cat. We arrived ten minutes before curtain and our seats were in the back. When the choreography is floor work, no amount of cat-like moves can help me see the action. Not to be catty but arriving for dinner ensures a better seat.
A stray I picked up en route, Dick describes it with ‘purrfectly whimsicalico fur-BALL!’
Production photo courtsey of G. Thomas Ward.
WAITING FOR THE SHOW
Dick has a $40 groupon for Morseland, 1218 W. Morse. It’s a bar and grill with surprising menu depth and reasonable prices. We have wandered in on the bi-annual trivia competition. The place is packed. Despite the crowd, the host and our server are friendly, efficient. Dick goes meat and potatoes. I go meat and macaroni & cheese. Delicious!!! Two dinners, a glass of wine and a Diet Coke = $45 plus lunch tomorrow! The cat doesn’t have my tongue. I heart Morseland. It’s a copycat experience waiting to happen. And it’s a four block walk to No Exit Café. We strut out into the autumn night…
Not a sound from the pavement
Has the moon lost her memory?
She is smiling alone
In the lamplight
The withered leaves collect at my feet
And the wind begins to moan
Filed under: Theo Ubique Cabaret Theatre
Tags: Andrew Lloyd Weber, Brenda Didier, Brian-Alwyn Newland, Ethan Deppe, Hilary Patingre, Izumi Inaba, Katy Walsh, Maggie Portman, Matt Guthier, Matt McNabb, Morseland, No Exit Cafe, Review "Cats", Sydney Charles, Theo Ubique Theatre, Tommy Rivera-Vega, Ubique's Cats