Daily Herald
'Cats' coming to North Central
By Sara Hooker | Daily Herald Staff
Published: 11/5/2009 12:02 AM

They'll soon be slinking across the stage meowing their tale of the Jellicle tribe, but for the past few weeks they've been prowling the streets and gyms of Naperville.

Howling and growling, they've padded along attempting to get into shape for the high-energy rendition of "Cats" that opens today at North Central College's Pfeiffer Hall.

"They're taking unbelievable pride the every aspect of the show," director Brian Lynch said. "I get kind of emotional watching them. They're killing themselves to do the show, and it really shows. It's just incredible."

As it turns out, preparing to dance for two hours - while singing - is hard work, as the cast of "Cats" knows.

They've taken to jogging and working out in the gym while singing to prepare for the role - a rehearsal method that has drawn many stares.

"Oh definitely, they think it's rather strange," said senior Andrea Larson, who plays Grizabella. "This show is by the far most intense dance show that I've been a part of at North Central. Everyone has taken real heavy measure to get ready for the show physically."

The cast of 25 members, six pit singers and understudies and 30 crew members have modeled the musical after Andrew Lloyd Webber's musical "Cats," which is based on T.S. Eliot's book of poems called "Old Possum's Book of Practical Cats"

If audiences see a strong resemblance between this rendition and Broadway version, that's because Lynch spent 1987 on the national tour of "Cats."

"By being in the show I know a lot of the inside tricks that you can't necessarily get from the script or from studying the show," he said. "It's the cheating inside information that I have."

Working with the national tour's stage manager taught Lynch that Grizabella and Munkustrap were supposed to be a couple. Additionally, it led him to several tricks about microphone placement, prop placement and placement during various entrances.

It's a very close rendition to the original production, he said.

"The technical effects will be scaled back a bit, but for our small stage we're doing a pretty accurate rendition of the original," Lynch said. "And yes the tire does fly at the end."

Understudies have gotten a lot of stage time preparing for the production due to illness.

"That part has been hard, keeping everyone healthy and physically strong and vocally strong to sing while they're doing all the things," Larson said. "Everyone is really supportive just because it is such a hard show. We've totally pulled it together."

"Cats" opens at 8 p.m. today with shows at 7:30 p.m. Friday, Nov. 6; 2 and 7:30 p.m. Saturday, Nov. 7, and 2 p.m. Sunday, Nov. 8.

Tickets are $15 for adults and $10 for students and seniors. For information, call (630) 637-7469 or visit northcentralcollege.edu/show.

If you go

What: "Cats"

When: 8 p.m. today, 7:30 p.m. Friday, 2 and 7:30 p.m. Saturday and 2 p.m. Sunday

Where: North Central College's Pfeiffer Hall, 310 E. Benton Ave., Naperville

Cost: $15 adults, $10 students and seniors

Info: (630) 637-7469 or northcentralcollege.edu/show