Cats are all over the stage at Beef and Boards Dinner Theatre in Indianapolis until March 30, 2014. The Andrew Lloyd Webber Tony Award winning musical Cats is the first musical of this season at the popular Indy venue.
If you have ever been to Beef and Boards, you will immediately notice some changes in the ‘normal’ stage settings. The ladders, walkways, and ropes hanging from the walls are a prelude of things to come. The opening of the show features cats popping up in the aisles, on the catwalks (pun intended) and all over the stage.
Thus the richly costumed musical extravaganza begins. The setting is a back alley in France. The whimsical plot follows the T.S. Elliot poetry book “Old Possum’s Book of Practical Cats” where an assortment of cat characters gathers for what they term the Jellicle Ball.
What follows is a frolicking presentation as the cast sings and dances through the two acts of the show. The amazing thing about this cast is their ability to not only mimic the actions and gestures of real felines, but to also bring individual personality traits into their characters.
It is very difficult to pinpoint any one individual in the cast of 22 as the outstanding feline character. The entire cast successfully “got into character” and shared that character with the audience. One of my favorites was Judah Frank’s portrayal of the tomcat Rum Tum Tugger. What a lady’s man he was. He swaggered by our table during the show, and I do mean he had a swagger!
Aaron Dalla Villa charmed the audience with his interpretation of Mistoffelees, the magical feline. His dark costume was outstanding for the role. Villa’s skill in dance and gymnastics provided some of the high points of the performance. He was mesmerizing.
This musical has a colorful past, including being the second longest running show in Broadway history. There is also an interesting Hoosier connection to this production. The director, Buddy Reeder, is a Hoosier native from Pittsboro. He was in a Beef and Boards presentation of Cats that was presented in 2004.
Cats is on stage through March 30. Tickets include Chef Odell Ward’s lavish dinner buffet that is prepared in-house for each performance. For reservations call the Beef & Boards Dinner Theatre Box Office at (317) 872 – 9664 anytime between 10 a.m. and 7 p.m. Tuesday through Sunday and from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Mondays. Parking is free at the theater. Check the website for more details.